The Awakening Kate Chopin Notes Born in 1851 in St. Louis Father had an Irish background and Mother had a French background. Her father died in a freak accident when she was 4. Raised in a special environment. Her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother raised her. Independent and artsy No clue that men were in the independent role and women were not. Graduated from St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart at 17 years old. Met Oscar Chopin 8 years older Clerk from St. Louis Immediately enthralled by her beauty and independence Married shortly after meeting. Not compared to Mr. Pontellier in The Awakening Had a bad childhood. Verbally abusive father. Taught him to treat his wife right and give her independence. Kate became frustrated that men controlled society. Lived in New Orleans for 9 years. Had 6 kids by the age of 30. Outstanding, loving mother. Not compared to Edna Pontellier. Husband was a cotton commissioner Well Off Lost his job in 1880 Moved to Clouterville, Louisiana Cajun influence Creole: descended from the French or culturally related to the French. Cajun: mixed ancestor; combination of French, Black, Spanish, and English. She helped run the store and plantations. She LOVED the people. Wrote short stories about them. Literary magazines began appearing at this time. What people read. Chopin’s short stories became famous. Local Color Author or Regional Writer Wrote about the Cajun, Western Louisiana lifestyle. At Fault was Kate’s first novel. Was okay, not popular. The Awakening was Kate’s second novel. 1899 published. She knew it was a different book. Critics tore it apart. A woman found married life dull and motherhood awful and acted upon it. SEX! White woman writing about sex. Wrote about a woman who found it her right to satisfy her sexual urges. Banned in Boston Anything against the Puritan beliefs could not be read. Neither bookstores nor libraries would pick it up. Never apologized, but was very disappointed at how the public viewed her book. A year or two later, Oscar died. Devoted the rest of her life to her kids. Died on August 22, 1904. When people started to question societies’ norms, The Awakening was picked up as a mantra for the liberal movements. Became extremely popular. Uses the technique of the feeling of a woman that they didn’t understand and it’s coming to the surface. Epiphany: sudden realization or enlightenment.