Kate Chopin wrote a short story named ” The Awakening” in the 20th century, as being one of the first feminist authors who wrote in that century. Her ability as a writer was to raise life from a blank page. Willa Cather, a later famous novelist was impressed by Chopin’s novel “The Awakening”. Cather acclaimed the style of Chopin, comparing the protagonist to the heroines of classic European fiction, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina.
In this essay, I intend to illustrate Kate Chopin’s approach to the symbol of birds throughout “The Awakening” story. Birds represent the freedom of flight, the precision, and timing, the perspective, the vision, and the individuality.
The soul of humans is represented by birds which have reached the perfection. Birds acquire a greater wisdom and knowledge than that of the humans. Birds have many abilities such as walking on earth, floating in the water and ascending into the air.
Edna Pontellier is the main character, who wishes to spread her wings and seek individuality. She is in like manner to a bird. Through the symbols of birds, we see Edna’s emotions, the choices she took, good or bad, in her journey of self-discovery. Edna at first is seen as a beautiful parrot locked in the cage: “A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door” (page 5) but in the end the image transforms into a disabled bird that flies freely:
“a bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water”. (page 120)