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Free Awakening Essays: The Parrot

The Importance of the Parrot in The Awakening

“Go away! Go away! For heaven’s sake! That’s all right!” (1) Chopin opens her poetic novella, The Awakening, not with the dialogue of a character, but with the ramblings of a brash parrot. Immediately, Chopin compels her readers to ponder what significance, if any, these seemingly random words will have in the following tale. Yet, it is not until the final pages that we recognize the bird’s true importance and meaning. The parrot, though seldom referred to within the text, comes to symbolize Edna’s role in society and the woman she becomes as she is spiritually awakened.

At first impression the parrot’s bold demeanor creates an image of eccentricity. His spirited exclamations give him an air of impertinence, defiance, and intelligence that one would not expect of such a bird. Chopin portrays Edna in the same light, showing that perhaps as the parrot may deviate from the norm, so does Edna, who digresses from the society in which she lives. She does not conform to the image of a typical woman in society, playing the roles of a devoted mother and wife. Edna ignores these standards by engaging in two extra-marital affairs and by placing her own life before those of her children. Her desire to live as she pleases lies in direct opposition to the duties she is expected to perform, and she refuses to put on this performance to satisfy society. As a result, Edna seems as brazen and audacious as the parrot that obviously does not mimic the sounds he hears and instead seems to create his own. Again squawking, “Go away! Go away!” at the bothersome piano playing of two girls, Chopin writes, “He was the only being present who possessed sufficient candor to admit that he was not listening to these gracious performances for the first time that summer.” (23) Edna shows similar candor in her unwillingness to accept society’s burdening stereotypes. The seemingly intelligent bird “could speak a little Spanish, and also a language which nobody understood…” (1) Though the parrot’s remarks appear to fall on deaf ears, Edna is one who can identify with his presumable wisdom, as her existence too is misjudged. Both Edna and the parrot are depicted as extraordinary and misunderstood in their surroundings, yet they are not free:as the parrot must exist in a cage, so Edna is caged by the restrictions society places upon her.

Free Awakening Essays: The Pigeon House

The Pigeon House in The Awakening

“In a little four-room house around the corner. It looks so cozy, so inviting and restful.”(79) With this description Chopin introduces the reader to Edna’s new residence, which is affectionately known as the pigeon house. The pigeon house provides Edna with the comfort and security that her old house lacked. The tranquility that the pigeon house grants to Edna allows her to experience a freedom that she has never felt before.

The first taste of this newfound freedom is the satisfaction that Edna feels in being able to provide for herself with her own money. The fact that she no longer has to rely on her husband’s money breaks the last tie that she had with him: “I know I shall like it, like the feeling of freedom and independence.”(80) In her mind now, her marriage is dead, and Mr. Pontellier has no control over her. Financial freedom is not the only thing the pigeon house gives to Edna; it also allows her both physical and spiritual freedom. When Edna kisses Arobin in her husband’s house, she feels “reproach looking at her from the external things around her which he had provided for her external existence.”(84) Yet, her first night at the pigeon house she spends with Arobin, and this time feels no reproach or regret. As for the spiritual ramifications provided by her new home, Chopin writes, “There was a feeling of descending in the social scale, with the corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.., she began to look with her own eyes… no longer was she content to feed upon opinion.”(94) The pigeon house provides a way for Edna to escape from the society that she hates. She has the freedom to make the decisions in her life now; and she decides that she is going to live life by her own rules, not the rules that society has laid out for her. When she is within her home, she is free from the pressures of being the “mother women” which society forces her to be. The pigeon house nourishes this newfound freedom, allowing it to grow and gain strength.

Without the environment provided by the pigeon house, it is doubtful as to whether Edna would have ever “awakened” from the stupefied state that society was forcing her to live in.

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