The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

This story discusses the oppressive nature of marriage, which I think is still very relevant even in today’s society. The United States alone has a divorce rate of 50 percent. The characters in this story think that marriage has stripped them of their individuality and independence. Personally, I don’t deny this argument, but I don’t completely agree with it either. Marriage is the bonding of two people together. Being married means that it is no longer simply a relationship that you are sharing with your spouse, but that there is heavy responsibility associated with that relationship. For a lot of families, women give their careers up to rear the children, which can be a huge sacrifice. I think this type of sacrifice eventually if not alleviated would lead to breakups and divorces.

On the other hand, this story also made me realize how the men in the family should take responsibility as well. The male character’s death not only did not traumatize his wife in the story but also made her feel a sense of relief. A lot of times the breadwinner of the house may feel exhausted after work, therefore demanding that his wife meets all of his needs voluntarily and mandatorily. Nevertheless, he is omitting all the house chores and child-caring the mother or females of the house have undertaken during the period when he’s gone to work. Hence, this story tells us that it is important for every family member to take a share of responsibilities and duties.

-Coreen C. 

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Written in 1898, The Awakening follows the main protagonist Edna Pontellier. Edna begins to feel somewhat out of place and out of touch with the morals and customs typically followed by the other women in her community. Her view on femininity and her roles as a mother begin to deviate from the norm, making her feel even more out of place from the other women. The novel follows her journey into discovering herself and her attempts to break free from society as she slowly becomes “Awakened”.

Under the surface of this novel, however, is a discussion of women’s roles in society during the late 1800s / early 1900s. Kate Chopin uses various characters– Edna herself included– throughout this novel to help reflect some of the social norms and attitudes to women’s place in society during the time she wrote the novel. Oftentimes hailed as one of the earliest works and novels on feminism, this book clearly highlighted to anyone that read it that women were being subjugated and that there were plenty of women who were unhappy with the traditional motherly role expected of them. Because of Chopin’s controversial portrayal of this fact, the novel would often be censored. Over time, however, this novel would grow to become recognized for its brilliance and its importance in discussing femininity and women’s roles in society.

-Kobe L.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library