Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh, Edna

My students all hate Enda for abandoning her children in The Awakening. She sends them to pass an idyllic summer with their doting grandmother, and meanwhile, she stays alone in New Orleans to satisfy her newly discovered sexual desires, develop her talents as an artist, assert herself as her own person and, despite (or perhaps because of) all this progress, to commit suicide. Almost one of my girls detests Edna for "being so selfish;" they concur blithely the with judgments of the Victorian society in which poor Edna strove to be her own woman. They have no compassion for her choices, refusing to acknowledge the soul-crushing oppression she so clearly faces throughout the novel.

But I love Edna so much I think about naming my someday-baby after her. I love Edna so much that I approve wholeheartedly of her triumphant suicide and don't give a damn about how it might traumatize her children. I love Edna so much I think about doing some...not all...of the things that she did. We shall see what kind of "awakening" awaits me.

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