The Awakening, by Kate Chopin is a colourful tapestry of images and symbols that set up a template for the premise of the novel's primary theme of the pursuit of individual autonomy. Edna Pontellier, is the female protagonist whose dreams of freedom are underscored by several symbolic awakenings. Her awakenings impel her to behave freely and think unconventionally. She attempts to free herself from social mores because she desires a life of infinite freedom to articulate her expressive needs which she cannot acquire in the domestic sphere. Chopin's integration of symbolism is like Picasso use colour in creating a brilliant masterpiece. Chopin's use of imagery, is markedly verbose in her vibrant and rich depiction of the sea, the birds and the treatment of clothing which constantly envelop Edna's quest for self-hood. .
The sea for Edna serves as a catalyst for her awakening because it operates as a sanctuary of freedom and a diversion from societal ties. Edna's sea operates as a symbol of self-knowledge outside away from the shore. Her first swim is a baptism, a rebirth of a new self -propelled identity. In chapter two Edna's eyes are transfixed upon the water, similar to RIP's gaze upon the Hudson River, This static scene of the mesmerizing water brings Edna back to an earlier time of childhood and of a virtual regression into the womb. Edna welcomes these feelings because they are adolescent emotions suitable for a heroine belatedly awakening. The water evokes in Edna's memory a time when her body essentially belonged to only her and not of her husband or children. Even Chopin's diction incites a figure of transfiguration in Edna, for instance: "but that night she was like a tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over confidence. She could have shouted for joy. She did shout for joy. (488)" The grammatical transition form "could have" to "did", like the shift form a child to Edna's new self.