Chapters 1 through 5


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The Awakening Close Reading Discussion Questions

Always reference page numbers as part of evidence for responses. Always add new vocabulary to your notes to expand your diction.

Chapters 1 through 5

  • What observations can be made from the cover? What might be meant by “The Awakening”?

  • What does the introductory paragraph/page introduce? Why?

  • Are there any symbols?

  • Character descriptions (What kind of husband/father is Mr. Pontellier? Mother/wife is Mrs. Pontellier? How is Mrs. Ratignolle described? Robert Lebrun?)

  • What is the setting (time and place)? How does it factor into the interactions of the characters?

  • Page 18, why is Edna crying. Find the best word from the text to describe what she is feeling?

  • Chapter 5, paragraph 4, how is Adele Ratignolle described? To what is this allusion referencing?

  • What is a Creole?

Chapters 6 through 10

  • How does the Chapter 6 relate to the title?

  • What is the significance of the sea?

  • What is chapter 6 saying about Edna’s emotional state?

  • Why does the author spend time referencing Edna’s childhood?

  • Lady in black and the lover imagery is referenced in the same paragraph, multiple times in these chapters, why?

  • What is the significance of Adele and Robert’s conversation on the way back from the beach?
  • Alcee Arobin is introduced as a character. Why? How does he contribute to the story?

  • Where is Vera Cruz? What is its significance?

  • Mademoiselle Reisz is introduced as a character? Why? How does she contribute to the story?

  • What mythical or literary allusions are referenced? Why?

  • What is the significance to the bird reference?

  • Edna and Robert’s behavior has altered towards one another? Why?

  • What conflicting images are described?

  • What is the significance to Edna swimming into the sea for the first time?

Chapters 11 through 14

  • What has changed for Edna? Select key passages that explain it.

  • Explain the symbolism with the cigar and wine.

  • What changes between Edna and Robert? Select key passages that explain it.

  • Explain the conversation between Robert and Mariequita.

  • What is the significance of Edna removing her clothes and hair…sleeping a long time?

  • How might the Ghosts and phantom ships of the sea might be connected to Edna and Robert?

Chapters 15 through 20

  • “It does no good; you have to stop fanning sometime, and feel all the more uncomfortable afterward,” says Robert. What underlying meaning is there?

  • What did she finally recognize about her and Robert?
  • “Edna had once told Madame Ratignolle that she would never sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone.” What does she mean by this statement? Why does Adele not understand it?

  • Tuesday receptions…the time honored tradition of receiving guest, Edna abandons. Why?

  • “You used to think the cook was a treasure.” “ Perhaps she was when she first came, but cooks are only human.” What is the significance of this passage?

  • “…taking off her wedding ring, flung it upon the carpet…stamped her heel upon it, striving to crush it…her small boot heel did not make an indenture, not a mark upon the little glittering circlet.” What is the significance of this passage?

  • Madame Ratignolle refers to “Life’s delirium,” leaves Edna pondering its meaning. To what might Adele be referring?

Chapters 21 through 25

  • On page 89, Mlle Reisz in saying “Courageous, ma foi! The brave soul. The soul that dares and defies.” What is the author’s purpose of having her in the story?

  • On page 89, “The shadows deepened in the little room. The music grew strange and fantastic—turbulent, insistent, plaintive and soft with entreaty. The shadows grew deeper. The music filled the room.” What are the shadows and music referencing besides themselves…what is happening?

  • On page 89, “Come whenever you feel like it. Be careful; the stairs and landings are dark; don’t stumble.” How might this be interpreted?

  • Explain why Mr. Pontellier goes to see Doctor Mandelet. What is the doctor’s advice? What does the doctor not say?

  • At the end of page 92, what is ironic?

  • In chapter 23 what does Adele Ratignolle see as the problem with the Pontelliers?

  • Find the passage in chapter 23 that explains Edna’s personality shift.

  • What was said by Edna that confirmed the doctor’s suspicion?

  • How did the Colonel “coerce his own wife into her grave”?

  • Where are the children?

  • On page 104 find 2 different passages to support what entices Alcee Arobin to Edna?

  • On page 107, it says, “He cast one appealing glance at her, to which she made no response. Alcee Arobin’s manner was so genuine that it often deceived even himself.” What is meant by this passage?

Chapters 26 through 31

  • Describe Alcee’s growing presence in Edna’s life.

  • What draws Edna to Mademoiselle Reisz?

  • What motivates Edna to find her own home? How does she plan to manage on her own?

  • What 2 details are revealed upon reading the latest letter from Robert?

  • How does Edna feel about having kissed Alcee Arobin?

  • “Asked if his cravat was plumb” literally means what?

  • What significant information was disclosed during the dinner in chapter 30.

  • What does Edna’s words versus actions towards Alcee Arobin reveal about her character?

Chapters 32 through 35

  • “It might get noised about that the Pontelliers had met with their reverses…” means what?

  • How does Mr. Pontellier react to his wife moving into the Pigeon House?

  • What would be the author’s purpose to having Edna visit her children?

  • What does Mrs. Ratignolle divulge to Edna in their conversation?

  • What reality versus illusion does Edna reflect upon when she sees Robert again?

  • Explain Robert’s actions. Compare Robert and Alcee.

Chapters 36 through 39

  • What is revealed in chapter 36? What is said by Edna that may disturb Robert?

  • Why does Adele speak such words to Edna at the end of chapter 37?

  • What does Robert’s note mean?

  • Explain multiple reasons for Edna’s final decision.


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