Study Guide

The Awakening Art and Culture

By Kate Chopin

Art and Culture

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In The Awakening, producing real art requires holding a position outside the societal mainstream. The lives of the two artists we see in The Awakening, Mademoiselle Reisz and Edna Pontellier, suggest that art requires a singular devotion that is impossible to have if also married. The Awakening thus paints a conflict between the pursuit of art and acceptance by society. Mademoiselle Reisz and Edna are both willing to pay the price to be real artists.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. Why does Mademoiselle Reisz tell Edna that it takes great courage to be an artist? By her own criteria, is Mademoiselle Reisz an artist?
  2. What’s the difference between when Mademoiselle Reisz plays the piano and when Adele plays the piano?
  3. Why does Mademoiselle Reisz consider Edna to be the only audience member worth playing for?

Chew on This

In The Awakening, art is inextricably linked to passion.