In The Awakening, Edna Pontellier challenges her role as a mother while Adele Ratignolle fulfills it to a tee. Motherhood is not a dynamic or fluid concept in The Awakening, but rather a static, idealized image that all women should aspire to. This image functions as an ideal while at the same time holding women to an impossible standard. Edna refuses to play this game as she considers her children to be perfectly secure and happy without involvement on her part.
Questions About Family
- What exactly is a "good mother" in Edna’s society? Why does Edna have trouble following that model?
- Is Edna a good mother by the standards of her society? By the standards of our society?
- How important is motherhood to Edna? Why did she have children in the first place?
Chew on This
For Edna, individual self-expression takes precedence over motherhood.