Historical And Cultural Background Of The Awakenin Essay
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The Awakening was written at the end of the nineteenth century. That was a time of tension between the old and the new, the traditional and the modern. The industrialization, urbanization and changing social norms of the turn of the century all contributed to the fact that life was changing.
Louisiana had its own set of problems that added to the confused feelings. It was a state created out of three different cultures. It is American in many ways, but it is also southern, and Creole. The combination of these three cultural forces was very strong. The aftermath of the Civil War was still reverberating across the nation (Edna's father is a good example).
The Creole culture was very different from the others. It was Catholic in a Protestant country. The Creole women were very conservative, perhaps the most conservative group in the nation. They were frank and open in discussing their marriages and children, but could do so because their very moral nature did not allow any doubt as to their chastity. They were committed as a group to their husbands and children and had a deep personal and religious commitment to fidelity. Adele is a fine example of this type of woman.
The reception The Awakening received indicates the climate of the time. Its publication cast a shadow over Kate Chopin and she only managed to publish three more short stories before her death. Contemporary critics were predominately hostile toward the subject matter, but praised the artistry of the writing. Still, despite Willa Cather, a friend of Chopin, being a strong voice of support, newspapers and magazines of the day were filled with such comments as "it is not a healthy book," "sex fiction," "the purport of the story can hardly be described in language fit for publication," "we are well satisfied when Mrs. Pontellier deliberately swims out to her death," "an essentially vulgar story," and