The Awakening is largely about an identity crisis. Dissatisfied with her labels as "wife" and "mother," Edna Pontellier seeks an independence that is hard to come by for Victorian women. The "awakening" that Edna experiences is the awakening of her true self – her real humanity that had lain dormant under a socialized exterior. The unleashing of the Inner Edna in the face of societal convention constitutes the main thrust of the novel.
Edna Pontellier commits suicide at the end of The Awakening because she realizes that her true identity is incompatible with Victorian society.