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Storm Warnings: The Eternally Recurring Apocalypse in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Storm Warnings: The Eternally Recurring Apocalypse in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Storm Warnings: The Eternally Recurring Apocalypse in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening by Amanda Lee Castro A characteristic of literary naturalism is the representation of “lim- itations placed on the human will” (Pizer 5), and while naturalistic readings of Kate Chopin’s Th e Awakening (1899) have recognized the way that social and biological forces circumscribe Edna Pontellier’s potential to realize her version of self-fulfi llment, they fall short of understanding the spatial histories of this post-apocalyptic novel’s Gulf Island settings: Chênière Caminada and Grand Isle. Critics such as Erik Margraf and Donald Pizer have read the novel’s repre- sentation of Edna’s Creole milieu and biology as deterministic forces, but they have found it diffi cult to account for the physical setting of the islands, which, at one time, represented a utopian promise of freedom from restrictive social conventions and mores for New Orleans and island residents. Margraf, for example, has conceded that unlike Edna’s Creole milieu, which does restrict her freedom and determine her behavior, the island environment is not “physically threatening” in the way that the natural environment typically is in other nat- uralistic novels (101). By the time the novel was published in 1899, however, The Southern Literary http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Storm Warnings: The Eternally Recurring Apocalypse in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 47 (1) – May 29, 2015

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

Storm Warnings: The Eternally Recurring Apocalypse in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening by Amanda Lee Castro A characteristic of literary naturalism is the representation of “lim- itations placed on the human will” (Pizer 5), and while naturalistic readings of Kate Chopin’s Th e Awakening (1899) have recognized the way that social and biological forces circumscribe Edna Pontellier’s potential to realize her version of self-fulfi llment, they fall short of understanding the spatial histories of this post-apocalyptic novel’s Gulf Island settings: Chênière Caminada and Grand Isle. Critics such as Erik Margraf and Donald Pizer have read the novel’s repre- sentation of Edna’s Creole milieu and biology as deterministic forces, but they have found it diffi cult to account for the physical setting of the islands, which, at one time, represented a utopian promise of freedom from restrictive social conventions and mores for New Orleans and island residents. Margraf, for example, has conceded that unlike Edna’s Creole milieu, which does restrict her freedom and determine her behavior, the island environment is not “physically threatening” in the way that the natural environment typically is in other nat- uralistic novels (101). By the time the novel was published in 1899, however, The Southern Literary

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 29, 2015

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