The Awakening

by Kate Chopin

“She missed him the days when some pretext served to take him away from her, just as one misses the sun on a cloudy day without having thought much about the sun when it was shining.”

“The years that are gone seem like dreams—if one might go on sleeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.”

These, and many other quotations in The Awakening, are what makes the book so poignantly touching and beautiful to read. However, what interested me the most is the fact that Edna, the main character, has everything society said she should want in life: a doting husband, two beautiful children and a life free of worry, and yet she has nothing, no power, no liveliness, no independence in her life—she is going through life half-asleep. In fact, there are moments of Edna’s growth that parallel my own fears of living a half-life blindly following society’s rules, and I’m sure that as I grow older, I will find more layers in The Awakening about nature, desire, society and be able to connect more with Edna.

Another thing I enjoyed about The Awakening was that the book isn’t merely a story about a love affair or about romance at all—it’s about not letting society possess you and about living your life with your own rules and not merely sleeping through it. I found it a fascinating story about a woman’s own awakening, and I liked the fact that the love affair was merely a tool to showcase this.

For instance, this is why I didn’t enjoy A Room With a View by E.M. Forster, because I felt that the whole story was about going against society for love. I found it simply a sappy love story, and it didn’t help that I didn’t buy their romance for a second. In fact, throughout the book, I didn’t even want the two characters to end up together because I thought that would be a much more poignant ending to show that love does not always conquer all.

However, it’s clear from the beginning that what Edna has with Robert is an infatuation, which she herself remarks upon when saying that “there was no human being whom she wanted more than Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone.” Their romance is all about desire, which again illustrates that what Edna wants and is attracted to is to leave the boring façade of society (her husband Léonce, who only cares about the appearance of things) and to live as Nature intended, freely. And in the end, I finally got my poignant ending of Robert leaving Edna because of his love for her, and Edna left entirely alone, without society, swimming in the rolling, blue waves of the nature’s sea.

Rating: 4/5

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Monthly Resolution check-in

It’s almost March, and that means that my monthly resolution is up! I had originally stated that I would read 5 books this month and, surprise surprise, I actually achieved my goal! Here are the 5 books I read:

Unaccustomed Earth Never Let Me GoCrime and Punishment, The Hunger Games trilogy (this counts as one since the books weren’t hard to read), and Chasing Shakespeare (which unfortunately turned out to be a waste of time. I’d give it maybe a 2 out of 5).

Hmmm… I guess the list I made in the beginning of the month didn’t actually help me at all, seeing how I only read 2 books out of my suggested list. But on the bright side, I did read 5 books this month!

For March, I think I’m going to amp it up to 6 books to continue widening my literary horizons (cough cough so incredibly cheesy cough cough).

What books am I going to read, you ask? Well, since my list for this month didn’t really help, I’ll just post a tentative list here of the books that I want to read, just so that if I start thinking that I have no more books to read, I can look back at this post and be proven wrong.

  • The Europeans by Henry James—this is fairly short, about the same length as his Washington Square, which I loved and read pretty quickly. So it shouldn’t be too hard, unless I lose focus and start getting hooked on embarrassing reality shows (thank GOD The Bachelor is almost over. My Tuesdays were pretty much consumed by The Bachelor).
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin—a book I got from my favorite used bookstore that’s been sitting on my shelf, just waiting for me. I bought it on a whim so I’m really excited to see if it’s good or not.
  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster—I know. I’ve been saying that I will read this for a while now. Hopefully this month I actually do.
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières—I was so excited to read this when I first made my literary resolution, but when I went to the bookstore to buy it, I got sidetracked by the other books, and I left without buying it. But this month, I will go to the bookstore without getting sidetracked, and I will read that book because it sounds amazing!

Now that I have my tentative list, let’s see if I can actually accomplish my resolution for March!

Literary Resolution

Even though it’s little late for resolutions now, I have a new one that might be hard to achieve, but will be extremely satisfying in the end.

I want to read 5 new books next month.

I know, 5 is a puny, pathetic number in comparison to those who resolve to read 100 new books in a year, but 5 is a big number for me. Normally, I grab books that I’ve read a million times, and then I’ll read them another million times, which doesn’t allow me to really read new books (for instance, my copy of Tuesdays with Morrie and Catch-22 are all but falling at the seams). So I want to expand my literary horizon and, thanks to you guys, I have the recommendations to do it.

I’ll let this month be a trial run to see how I do. And just so I don’t wimp out and make excuses like “I just don’t know what book to read!” I’m writing down the books that I want to read within the month of February:

1. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

2. The Beautiful and the Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald

3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (although this is kind of a cop out since I’m reading it in my English class. Oh well. It’s a pretty dense book so I think it should count)

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

5. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

and possibly House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, just because it’s been sitting on my bookshelf looking very dejected since I haven’t read it yet. Yes, my books have feelings, and no, I’m not crazy.

So that’s my plan! Thank you guys for your recommendations. I hope to read all of the books you suggested by the end of the year, but I think I’ll stick to my monthly plan for now, taking my reading resolution in baby steps 🙂