Jude and the Awakening

I can't precisely remember how old I was when I first read Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" but I know I was a young teenager. And like every other teenage girl I knew, I was obsessed with my appearance, what people thought of me (especially boys and authority figures), and doing everything possible to assert my adultness. "The Awakening" is the story of a woman coming alive for the first time--being aware of her own needs and wants, her own autonomy, and how that directly contrasts to her roles as a wife and a mother. 

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It also takes place at the turn of the twentieth century in the American South but what I believe is most revolutionary is that it was actually contemporaneously published (in 1899) and, perhaps even more shocking, was written by a female author. It was a truly clairvoyant piece of work, predating the modernist novel movement and truly challenging the status quo. 

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As a teenager, I remember being depressed by the ending of the novel. Why couldn't the protagonist, Edna, make her dreams come true? Why couldn't she have what she wanted? 

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As an older and wiser mother and wife, I can understand more of the agonizing decisions she faced. In leaving behind a life that was comfortable, in leaving her children. In doing something new and challenging that might ultimately fail.

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Jude was the perfect model for what I had envisioned in paying homage to this piece. She is only thirteen but seems to appear much older or much younger based on the angle photographed.

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Here Jude feels feminine and soft but so very young--almost unexpectedly youthful and timeless. Edna, too, was like a child in many ways until she "awakened". She was cared for and coddled and kept apart from the world. Everything around her wasn't truly "real" until she was able to reach beyond the veil and truly grasp what she wanted.

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She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.
— Kate Chopin, The Awakening
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