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Teaching Guide

Teaching The Awakening

Cream or sugar?


Shmoop's here to make sure The Awakening keeps your students awake.

In this guide you will find

  • discussion questions about feminism, love, and marriage.
  • modern pop culture resources, like a comic adaptation and even a musical.
  • activities analyzing various book covers and movie adaptations for the novel.

And much more.

What's Inside Shmoop's Literature Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring literature to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

Instructions for You

Objective: In this activity, we don't want your students to just judge book covers; we want them to really scrutinize them. 

They'll analyze three different covers that have graced Kate Chopin's The Awakening and determine their relationship to the plot, characters, and themes of the novel. Then they'll write a brief comparative essay explaining which aspects of the novel each cover appears to emphasize and outlining the strengths and shortcomings of each of the cover illustrations.

Length of Lesson: 1 class period

Materials Needed:

  • Handouts of (or online access to) the three different covers of the book
  • Projector or SMART Board (optional)
  • Sticky notes (enough for everyone to have 8-10)

Step 1: Introduce the objective and the lesson plan of the day—to analyze three different book covers and their significance to the novel—and provide students with images of the three Awakening book covers and sticky notes. (The images can also be projected or posted onto a board at the front of the room.)

Step 2: Ask the students to jot down their immediate reactions to each of the cover images on individual sticky notes (1 reaction per sticky note).

Step 3: Use the sticky notes to lead a class discussion on how the three cover images differ from each other and what the cover art alone might tell us about the novel. To structure the discussion, draw a large Venn diagram using three circles at the front of the class and ask students to volunteer their sticky-note observations. Once a student has given his/her observation or idea, the student can stick the note on the large Venn diagram at the front of class. Encourage the class to create their own Venn diagrams in order to write down their classmates' ideas.

Some suggested focal points for discussion:

  • The figures of two women on one cover as opposed to the figure of one woman on the two others, and the absence of men;
  • The different artistic styles of the covers;
  • The differences in setting (indoors versus outdoors);
  • Which cover works better for the novel.

Step 4: Leave the last 25-30 minutes of class for a short in-class essay on a comparative analysis of the three covers. Allow the students to use the Venn diagram and their books to help them craft their literary responses.

Step 5 (Optional): For homework, ask the students to draw their own cover art for the novel and attach a brief, one-page response that explains how the novel inspired their artwork and how the artwork gives significance to the novel.

(California English Language Arts Standards Met: 9th and 10th grade Reading 3.3, 3.4, 3.7, 3.8, 3.11, 3.12; Writing 1.1, 1.2,1.4, 1.6, 2.2; Written and Oral English Language Conventions 1.2, 1.3, 1.4. 11th and 12th grade Reading 3.2, 3.3, 3.5b, 3.5c, 3.8; Writing Strategies 1.3, 1.5, 2.2; Written and Oral English Language Conventions 1.1.)

Instructions for Your Students

What did you assume about The Awakening based on the cover of the book used in class? Were your suspicions  correct, or way off the mark? In this activity you'll be looking at three different covers forThe Awakening and analyzing them in relationship to the novel.

Step 1: Use your critic's eye, and observe how the following three covers are similar and different:

Step 2: In class, jot down your reactions to each of the covers on separate sticky notes (1 reaction per sticky note, please—no doubling up). 

Step 3: Use your sticky notes as a part of a class discussion by filling out a giant Venn diagram. The Venn diagram will use three circles to highlight the similarities and differences between the three book covers.

Step 4: Now it's time to show what you know. During the last 30 minutes of class, write an essay that compares the three book covers and their significance to the novel. Use your notes from class and your book to help your analysis.

Step 5 (Optional): For homework, explore your inner artist and draw your own cover for the novel. Attach a brief, one-page essay that explains how the novel inspired your artwork and how your cover art signifies or adds meaning to the novel.

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