Book Club Questions The Awakening by Kate Chopin
What is the awakening? Is there one awakening, or a series of them? What is the importance of the title? What message or statement does the awakening make?
What role do children play in Edna’s life? How do you view her role as a mother?
When Edna’s husband tells her that her child is sick, and she doesn’t immediately go to the child, why do you think this is? Is the child really sick? Or is Edna’s husband merely telling her that to prompt action in her?
What is the symbolism of Edna’s first attempt to swim and her first successful attempt to swim? What role does the sea play in the novel?
The men in the novel–do you recall who each of them are? What roles do they serve in the text? What do you think of them?
The women in the novel–do you recall who each of them are? What roles do they serve in the text? What do you think of them?
What is the importance of the lady in black and of the two lovers? These characters often appear at the same points in the novel. What is the significance of this pairing symbolically?
When Mademoiselle Reisz plays the piano, what feelings does the music bring to Edna? Do you view her reaction to the music as important to the story?
Why does Mademoiselle Reisz say that it takes courage to be an artist? Is her opinion rooted in her time and her gender? Do you agree?
What examples are you aware of where Edna’s clothing is mentioned or plays some importance? How does the text use clothing to portray Edna’s rebellion against Victorian norms?
What role does race and class play in the novel?
Birds are mentioned throughout the novel. What birds do you recall from the various points in the novel? How do the various birds symbolize different ideas?
The book opens with a bird in a cage squawking, and closes with a dog on a chain barking. What do you make of this?
Edna’s death at the conclusion of the novel–do you view it as a suicide or as an accident? If you view it as a suicide, what do you think the author meant in writing the ending this way? Some view it as Edna’s failure to complete her escape from convention–an inability to defy society once stripped of the motivation of a man by her side. Others view it as a final awakening, a show of strength and independence. Do you find these compelling? Do you view it as an act of bravery or cowardice?
Why do you think the author left the ending of the novel vague?