Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Somber, serious, and solemn
Chopin wrote The Awakening in fairly formal prose that conveys a certain sense of gravity to the story. This seriousness is exacerbated by the novel’s point of view – the third person omniscient point of view tends to be much more distant than, say, first person.