The novel The Awakening takes place in the late 19th century during the Industrial Revolution and the Women's Rights Movement. The entire basis of the story is around the feminist movement and it quite crucial to the plot. The novel opens on Grand Isle, which was a popular summer vacation spot for the wealthy citizens of New Orleans.
The story opens as Edna Pontellier is vacationing with her husband, Leonce, and their children at the cottages of Madame Lebrum. Leonce is constantly away, due to business, and is continuously preoccupied with work. This leads to Edna spending most of her time with her friend, Adele Ratignolle, whose friendship started the awakening process in Edna. This is the narrative hook, opening the entire basis of the book to that of Edna's self-discovery.
The rising action consists of many events that launched her awakening while Edna vacationed in Grand Isle. There, conversations with Adele prompted Edna to realize the oppression caused onto her by her husband. Robert Lebrun's flirtations caused her to desire much more freedom from her husband, and Edna swam for the first time in the sea, showing her personal strength and courage to begin a new chapter in her life, one of self-discovery and fulfillment.
When reading The Awakening, I found no true climax, but rather Edna's entire series of realizations of her entrapment in society. These realizations lead her to eventually leave her husband in search of something more. The main point of the falling action is that of Edna's death at the end of the novel, unhappy with what she was granted in life, Edna commits suicide by drowning in the sea.
The main conflict in the novel is that fact that once Edna begins to see the errors in society and craves independence, she finds herself dejected and in udder solitude. When Edna sees herself as a separate and distinctive individual, her world is turned completely upside-down. Edna no longer wants to submit herself to the wants of her husband and has found her own mindset that she wants to fulfill.