Sunday, 22 January 2017

The narrator of The Awakening

After Effi Briest, I'm reading another work that also deals with adultery- The Awakening
As Tom at Wuthering Expectations has just written about the different layers of meaning in Kate Chopin's work (here and here), I don't expect to get much out of my 1st reading, and probably won't write much. 
I'm just going to poke at it. 
Like this line in chapter 8: 
"Robert went over and seated himself on the broad sill of 1 of the dormer windows. He took a book from his pocket and began energetically to read it, judging by the precision and frequency with which he turned the leaves." 
This is Kate Chopin's style- she reports and describes everything without comment; the narrator doesn't intrude. But that sentence is interesting, like the narrator isn't omniscient and doesn't know the character but only stands there and observes. 
Now look at this line in chapter 9: 
"It was growing late, and there was a general disposition to disband. But someone, perhaps it was Robert, thought of a bath at that mystic hour and under that mystic moon." 
What do you think of that sentence? 


  1. In the two sample sentences, the narrator seems to meander among different levels of knowledge about others' thoughts and motivations. Perhaps with a larger sampling (or my own reading of Chopin's story), I would be able to comment more usefully. So I apologize for the abbreviated observation.

  2. bathed in moonlight? transported into ecstasy by the soft night and his dreams...?

  3. It's a literal bath, a nighttime swim.

    The word "mystic" is the key. It is used two other times to describe the long scene, once earlier (again associated with the moon), and once later, in retrospect. The question is then to whom does the word belong? It's repetition suggests that it is Edna's - the fourth usage is definitely Edna's - but she may be borrowing it from someone else. I wonder if some of the language is from a pop song. Robert could pick it up, then Edna get it from him.