Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kate Chopin

Yesterday I blogged about Laura Ingalls Wilder and how she has influenced so many young women through the years, but I admitted that I had never read her books (or at least don't hold a memory of them), nor watched the show very often.

Today's birthday shout-out goes to another writer. In, again, in this case, I haven't read many of her works. But the one piece I have read, I've read several times.

It's a difficult read. It's an intimate look into the depths of depression and despair. Edna Pontellier is a woman who has everything she should want: a husband, beautiful children, a lovely home, social status, wealth -- and the knowledge that she is expected to be thankful for them all.

But she isn't. She's lonely and unstimulated. She has feelings she can't explain, or explore.
The mother-women seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels.
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The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.
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It sometimes entered Mr. Pontellier's mind to wonder if his wife were not growing a little unbalanced mentally. He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we would assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.
The book has always been an emotional read for me. I have my own personal darkness to contend with at times, and while it's sometimes helpful to read about other people's lives, this book is particularly difficult when I'm not feeling very strong.

And it's made more difficult by its association with probably my most favorite character in the show Treme.

 But as well as I know the book, I know very little about Kate Chopin's life. I suspect there was some part of her life in Awakening.

What little I've read over the last day or so, looking for photos and whatnot for this post, I realize I would like to read more of her work, and one or two of the biographies written about her. I suspect I would find some inspiration in learning about her life, and how she faced her challenges.

1 comment :

  1. If you're into short stories (or even quick reads), "The Story of an Hour" (links to what appears to be the full text online) is one of my favorites, for many of the same reasons The Awakening is one of my favorites.