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Themes

In The Awakening, the main characters live in a society obsessed with reputation. Mr. Pontellier in particular carries this obsession out to unhealthy ends – he becomes more concerned about his reputation than about his marriage, and is willing to put good money on it. To have a good reputation in The Awakening, however, is not necessarily viewed as being synonymous with having a good character.

Questions About Respect and Reputation

  1. Who cares the least for his or her reputation? Who cares the most? Why?
  2. What are the various ways we see in the text that a woman can lose her "good reputation"? How many of them did Edna hit?
  3. Is reputation a true reflection of character in The Awakening?
  4. What defines a person’s reputation in The Awakening?
  5. How does Edna’s reputation evolve over the course of the novel?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Edna’s reputation shifts from good to bad over the course of The Awakening, but in return she gains a better sense of self.

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