How She Shook Up Her Characters
NARRATOR: Kate Chopin is often complimented for creating characters who suddenly dig deeply into themselves and discover feelings that not even they knew existed, yet they are very natural feelings. This talent comes into play in stories like The Awakening and "A Vocation and a Voice." In The Awakening, Edna suddenly realizes how unhappy she is in her marriage, while frolicking on the beach with Robert, a man she is much attracted to�despite his reputation as a ladies' man.
SOUNDBITE: Barbara Ewell/Loyola University of New Orleans
They are playing. They are like children, they are on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, and letting down one's reserves, letting one's self get in touch again with the physical world, and its spontaneity. Its physical demands open up to Edna places in her heart and in her soul she had lost contact with, maybe had never known were there. That, then opens her at least to other dimensions of herself and that happens consistently in Chopin's fiction, that natural world which children are often associated with brings people to a new kind of awareness of selfhood and connection with others.
NARRATOR: In "A Vocation and a Voice", a young teenager makes a similar discovery about his manhood after stumbling upon a naked woman�a woman he had been around for days, if not weeks. But, he's only looked upon this woman in a casual way.
SOUNDBITE: Barbara Ewell/Loyola University in New Orleans
They're clearly in the context of nature and the descriptions of her against a very intensely, natural and physical backdrop and so it's hard really to distinguish what, rather it's very clear that Chopin is offering, telling us that sex is natural, physical responses are natural.