Kate Chopin, born February 8, 1850, used her life’s experiences to express strong opinions to her 1900s American audience. Although her work was criticized for its honesty and audaciousness, by the late 1900s Chopin’s work was considered as brilliant literature that accurately described women of the late 1800s. The Awakening was Chopin’s most famous work, however it nearly ended her writing career due to the violent backlash she received for writing such a truthful novel about women in a time which they were still considered inferior to men. This novel was practically ignored during the early 1900s because it had been considered inappropriate as Chopin was among the first authors of her time to write accurately about a woman’s life. Kate Chopin was greatly influenced by the strong single women who raised her, the southern way of life of the 1800s, and French literature and authors to write her highly-criticized, feminist novel The Awakening.
Kate Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Eliza and Thomas O’Flaherty. Born into a wealthy catholic family, at age five Chopin attended the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart, a boarding school mentored by nuns (“Kate Chopin Biography”). In 1855, two months into Chopin’s boarding school, her father was killed in a railroad accident due to a collapsing bridge, and Chopin was brought to her family from boarding school, although she returned two years later. All widows, Chopin was raised by her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. No married couples lived in Chopin’s house until she was sixteen, but her house was filled with brothers, uncles, and cousins. Chopin was the only of five children to live past the age of twenty-five (Wyatt).
The Awakening is a novel about a woman who is independent and strong-willed, characteristics no doubt of the women who raised her, family and nuns (“Kate Chopin” 384). Chopin’s great-great grandmother had been the first woman in St. Louis to obtain a legal separation from her husband and raised five children on her own (Wyatt). Chopin wrote from a feministic point of view, taught by the women who raised her. Edna Pontellier, the main character in The Awakening, always looked to the older women in the story for support. When Madame Ratignolle fell ill at the end of the story, Mrs. Pontellier had rushed to be by her side, leaving the love of her life to help support a meaningful woman in her last hours(Chopin, 108). Showing her independence, she also moves in the story because she wants to take care of a small house of her own, not her husband’s large house run by servants (79). Chopin and Mrs. Pontellier’s lives were greatly influenced by the support of strong, influential women.
After Chopin was married in 1870, she moved to New Orleans with her husband, Oscar. Due to her husband’s failed business, they later moved to Cloutierville, a small town in central Louisiana. He died only a few years later, leaving Chopin and six children little money. Working in her...