In one of her more controversial pieces of work, The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses many mechanisms to accentuate the quest for freedom from society that her protagonist, Edna Pontellier, must go through to achieve an ultimate victory. Some more prominent examples of these literary mechanisms within the novel are those of sleep patterns and clothing imagery. By using clothing imagery and the change in Edna's sleeping patterns though out the novel, Chopin shows how Edna changes and grows until she accomplishes her final goal.
To the outsider, Chopin's tragic heroine, Edna, has a wonderful life, a lovely house, a doting husband, and two healthy, handsome young boys. Defying the stereotype society has set up for her, Edna battles the pressures of 1899 that command her to be a subdued and devoted housewife. When Edna and her family are first introduced to the reader, they are vacationing on Grand Isle, a popular summertime retreat for well to do Creoles. The variation in Edna's sleep patterns is initially set up in the third chapter when Mr. Pontellier comes home from his daily ventures and finds her asleep. Léonce promptly awakens Edna from her sleep and begins to tell her of the day's events. After being forced awake by her husband, Edna goes outside, starts to cry and has trouble going back to sleep. Edna's episode with Léonce marks the start of Edna's strange sleeping habits.
Later, in the thirteenth chapter, Edna and Robert Lebrun travel to Cheniere to go to church. While at the church, Edna starts to feel drowsy and light-headed, she gets up and leaves, with Robert trailing behind. When she gets outside, Edna tells Robert that she is not feeling well. Robert, in turn, leads Edna to Madame Antoine's home to rest. At first, Edna only sleeps lightly, but later she is induced into a long, comfortable slumber. The night before, Edna had barely slept because she felt that she had to rebel against the insistence of Léonce, who was forcing her to sleep.