by Kate Chopin
Analysis: Writing Style
Controlled, Perceptive, Concise
From the first page of The Awakening, Kate Chopin establishes her stylistic control over her words; she follows the formal rules of grammar. Her sentences are sharp and exact, and her word choice is always precise. Here’s a typical Chopin paragraph – this one comes right at the end of Chapter One:
“Coming back to dinner?” his wife called after him. He halted a moment and shrugged his shoulders. He felt in his breast-pocket; there was a ten-dollar bill there. He did not know; perhaps he would return for the early dinner and perhaps he would not. It all depended upon the company which he found over at Klein’s and the size of “the game.” He did not say this, but she understood it, and laughed, nodding good-by to him.
Chopin alternates between being very specific and somewhat vague in her narration; for instance, she may use several paragraphs to describe one object or one specific moment, or she may use one short sentence to sum up a lengthy, complicated event. We can assume, since we know Chopin’s a master stylist, that she gives lots of details in order to emphasize an event or an object’s underlying importance, and that she quickly summarizes the insignificant stuff so we don’t waste much time thinking about it.