Readers' Review: "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : The Diane Rehm Show

Filed Under:

Readers' Review: "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin

For our April Readers’ Review: a woman’s journey to self-discovery in the late 1800's. Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” so disturbed readers when it first came out it was banned. Now it’s considered a feminist landmark.

Program Highlights

Kate Chopin's turn-of-the-century novel "The Awakening" is our Readers' Review book this month. With talk of the so-called war on women in this election year, it seems particularly relevant to return to this landmark feminist novel. Our guests discuss the book and its significance today.

The Word "Depression" Not Used In The Text

Though the novel deals with themes of depression, the actual term is not used in the text - possibly because, Miller muses, it just wasn't part of the terminology at the time. Edna, the main character, is thrown in to a culture she isn't familiar with. Up until she marries, she's been used to a very Presbyterian-Protestant life. After her marriage, she goes to New Orleans and is exposed to the freer Creole culture. "They play a game that she doesn't understand and that she can't master," Warner said.

"It Was Considered A Scandal"

The book, when it was first published, "was considered a scandal. It was absolutely rejected. It was considered vulgar. The writing was considered to be terrible," Warner said. About ten years after Chopin's death, people started recognizing its worth. "It wasn't really valued and recognized as a feminist work until, of course, much later, until we had the vocabulary to see it that way. But I just wondered how much of the ending followed necessarily from the character or how much was it a structuring device that served some other purpose? And I don't know," Warner said.

Isolation

Edna, like many women who had few options in the past, felt isolation keenly. A caller who is a stay-at-home father pointed out that anyone who stays home with children primarily is at risk for feeling this kind of isolation today. "I love staying home with my son, but it is so alienating because mothers do not like to associate with me when I take my son places because there is just a social stigma about stay at home fathers. And so I just wanted to point out that it is something that has come to light for women and that's a good thing, but I would like to see it sort of come to light more for men as well," the caller said.

You can read the full transcript here.

NPR

'F' Is For Fraudster In A Family Novel For Our Modern Times

Daniel Kehlmann's F, about three brothers abandoned by their father, examines the detail of lives lived without integrity. It is brilliantly translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway.
NPR

No. 1 Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant's No. 2

A coffee entrepreneur claims his brew is different — and better — than the trendy civet poop coffee. And it starts with the idea that elephants, unlike humans or civets, are herbivores.
WAMU 88.5

Maureen McDonnell Didn't Give Special Treatment To Star Scientific, Witness Testifies

A defense witness in the corruption trail against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, says the former first lady often traveled the state promoting state businesses, countering the notion she gave special treatment to the company at the heart of the corruption trial.
NPR

The Momentum Of The Ice Bucket Challenge — And What It Means For ALS

A recent fundraising challenge has gone viral on social media, calling attention to research into Lou Gehrig's disease. Forbes contributor Dan Diamond discusses the state of that research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.