Kate Chopin was born in 1850 in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent much of her life working as a writer to support her children after her husband died.
Despite having lived in what seems to have been a happy marriage, readers often assumed that Kate Chopin was drawing on personal experiences when she depicted her incredibly unhappy and sometimes the suicidal feminist protagonist.
More likely, (as seen in the quotes below), Chopin was drawing on her understanding of the day-to-day lives of women she knew and an understanding of how, generally, women were regarded during the 19th century.
There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why,–when it did not seem worthwhile to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation.
These are a few famous lines concerned with the struggles women face in day-to-day life in ‘The Awakening.’ The writer taps into one of the most important parts of this novel, the reason that Edna is unhappy. She experiences a degree of confusion regarding why she can’t be content, as most of her friends are, with the life of a mother and a wife.
She wakes up and feels as though she is not glad or sorry to be alive or dead. Some days, she says, feel like a “grotesque pandemonium,” and humanity feels like “worms,” all of whom are struggling toward “inevitable annihilation.”
I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.
This quote is from ‘The Awakening‘ as well and is concerned with Edna’s feelings about her family, specifically her husband and her children. She notes that she’d give every physical possession she has access to in order to take care of her children, but she refuses to give up her identity. She wants to preserve some degree of freedom and, as Chopin writes in ‘The Story of an Hour,’ “possession of self-assertion” in her day-to-day life.
There would be no one there to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.
These famous lines come from ‘The Story of an Hour,’ Chopin’s best-loved and commonly studied short story. The story takes place over the course of an hour, as the title suggests, and is concerned with the aftermath of a wife learning that her husband has died in a train accident.
What first manifests as grief and crying soon turns into elation and relief as she realizes that the rest of her life is her own to live as she sees fit. She does not have to be subjected to any intention, kind or cruel, other than her own.
Death and Determination
She disappeared among the reeds and willows that grew thick along the banks of the deep, sluggish bayou; and she did not come back again.
This short quote comes from Chopin’s story, ‘Desiree’s Baby.’ In these lines, Chopin describes Desiree leaving her husband, Armand, with a new determination that, up until this point, hasn’t been unseen. She leaves home with her baby and presumably dies in the wilderness. She shows a strength that’s seen in her ability to leave and not look back, which she doesn’t show throughout the rest of the story.
Se did not look back now, but went on and on, thinking of the blue-grass meadow that she had traveled when a little child, believing that it had no beginning and no end.
Like the previous quote, these lines come near the end of a tragic story of a woman’s struggle to find happiness and peace in her day-to-day life. This quote is from Kate Chopin’s most popular novel, ‘The Awakening.’ These lines are seen on the last page of the book and concern the main character, Edna, deciding not to look back at the shore but swim further into the ocean, away from her life and toward her death. She swims on and on, thinking only about a meadow she used to walk in when she was a child. In these lines, as in the previous quote, she shows a new kind of determination.
What is an important Kate Chopin quote?
These lines from ‘The Story of an Hour‘ are some of Kate Chopin’s most famous: “She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.”
What did Kate Chopin write about?
Kate Chopin’s writing dealt with a variety of subjects, including the life of men, women, and children living in the American south during the late 19th century and, specifically, the lives and struggles of women contending with oppressive marriages and the unrealistic expectations of society.
How many novels did Kate Chopin write?
Kate Chopin wrote two novels in her lifetime. ‘The Awakening‘ is her best-known and the work for which she’s usually remembered. The second is ‘At Fault,’ a much less commonly read novel that deals with some similar and some different themes.