Reading a seminal work often has drawbacks. I might not "get it," just might not see the beauty and the purpose behind the work of supposed genius. I might not feel the same passions as others. I kind of feel that way about The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I think I "got it" for the most part - feminism, freedom, blah, blah, blah. And I think some of the paragraphs are quite captivating. But there is just not that wow factor I was expecting. Instead, I found myself attached to the mostly inanimate objects in this short novel. I ended up noticing the "period-ness" (my word) of the piece instead of the emotional weight. I enjoyed the discussions of fashions, food, culture, and living arrangments much more than the breaking free of a "repressed" woman.
I am told The Awakening did wonders for the women's movement. But swept away with that free-love, I-have-rights- too, I-am-not-anybody's-property, it's-my-body, my-choice-crusade were some of the things that made womanhood great back then.
So what to do when the emotional interior (read: overt feminist tendencies) doesn't do anything for you, but the exterior catches your eye? Make a list of the things which we ought to have and don't because of this stinkin' book. Here's my list of the things we should have kept around:
1. Hot chocolate prepared on a stove. My mom used to make this for me on cold winter mornings and it is nothing like the packet kind. There is a scene imprinted upon my mind of our main character and another extraneous woman having hot chocolate that bubbled up on the stove. That sounds so good! If only it weren't 100 degrees outside.
2. Referring to a meteorologist as a "weather prophet." I know, I know, the science of meteorology has come a long way in the 100+ years since this book was written, but wouldn't it be a much more popular profession if it was called "prophecy?"
3. Having a reputation for actual accomplishments. Sadly, this is not true of the protaganist unless you count painting and swimming. She is like yesteryear's Paris Hilton, if Paris had children she ignored. It is more true of her husband Mr. Pontellier. He actually went out and made money in that evil stock market and he put up with lack-luster attention on the home front. New hero of the novel, anyone?
4. Sun hats with long white gloves and wearing all white in the summer. I love the picture from the front of my edition. It just speaks to that era so well. I was going to say we should keep around veils, but those are more closely associated with Sharia law lately and that is not a thing we should keep around (Kate Chopin taught me that).
5. Throwing dinner parties without lifting a finger. Now this is something I can really get behind! As one who likes a good party as much as the next gal, I also realize all the planning and preparation that goes into one. Not so for Edna, she has help for just that sort of thing and she sits, laughing and smiling with her guests while the courses are brought out. Then, she gets all the credit for being the perfect hostess.
There you have it, the reason the women's lib movement has destroyed the fabric of society in 5 short points. Any questions?
Note: I am not usually as sarcastic and snarky as I was in this post, please excuse the flippant tone.
Rating: 3.5 out of 7