perhaps two of the most significant symbols are the clothes in the novel, not only of Edna,
Edna Pontellier. Both the water and her clothes have the power to not only emphasize, but
help show exactly how and what Edna is feeling.
are mentioned at almost every description of the characters. Edna Pontellier starts the novel
Edna doesn?t feel like she can fit into society any longer. Madmoiselle Reisz, on the other
hand, does not seem to have any desire to be more than what she has been given in the
society in which she lives. Therefore, she does not change her clothes, because she does not
Other characters, such as Madame Leburn always have new clothes to cover their
is equal to her lack of ?responsibility?, of her family and the 1890s? society.
replenished and she begins to realize that she is not satisfied with her life and roles as wife
to accomplish all summer. By learning to swim, she is empowered and becomes more
self-aware, of not only her sexuality, but also of who she is and not who society says she
The water in The Awakening could be seen to symbolize Edna?s rebirth into a more
assertive woman. Every time she enters the water, she gets stronger, until finally her strength
is more powerful than her love for her children, or her life. At this point she goes so far out
to sea, that the water takes back the strength it had geven her.
Both the water and the clothes in the novel are very important symbols, both helping
to emphasize Edna Pontellier?s new life. She starts the novel as a very suppressed woman
(fully clothed) and ?covered by society and its? strict roles, and then ends naked as if she is
escaping the restricted boundaries of her clothes and of society. The water is a constant
source of new life for Edna, and as her clothes are removed to go into the water, they are