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Edna’s final decision

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1377 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1) Justify Edna’s final decision in The Awakening.

  Edna’s final decision of committing suicide in The Awakening is inevitably linked to freedom. She grew up in a conservative society where marriage and motherhood provided a satisfying future for the young women, no matter what their true desires in life were. Having believed this all through out her life, Edna eventually got married and had children, only to find that she wasn’t suited for either lifestyle. “The years that are gone seem like dreams-if one might go on sleeping and dreaming-but to wake up and find-oh! well! Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life (Chopin 624). Edna fully understands that she really wants nothing to do with her children when she clearly understands “what she had meant long ago when she said to Adele Ratignolle that she would give up the unessential’s, but she would never sacrifice herself for her children” (Chopin 626). Though Edna didn’t like her lifestyle, as she had made it, if any women in her society were to give up marriage and motherhood to follow their own path, she would be condemned. Therefore, she felt her only way to freedom and independence from her life was to go against nature and commit suicide, which she did so by swimming out in the ocean and not returning to shore.

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2) What is meant by “Roman Fever?” How does it influence Alida and Grace?

Roman Fever is meant to portray pregnancy in the story. People in that time period seemed to think that Roman Fever was only caught at night by women, since shortly after their night out, the signs and symptoms of pregnancy could have already been occurring. So every night “when Roman fever stalked the streets” the mothers would “gather in the girls at the danger hour” (Wharton 782). If any women came done with the illness it was assumed she was rebellious and stayed out all night long, probably chasing after boys. Roman Fever influences Alida and Grace, since Grace was assumed to have caught the Roman Fever the one night she was out with Alida’s fiancé. No one knew she was out with him that night, since it was supposed to be a prank date planned by Alida, so no one could have questioned her about being pregnant. Only Grace knew her secret of being pregnant and it was clear that Alida didn’t, especially when she says “I remember how ill you were that winter. As a girl you had a very delicate throat, hadn’t you,” (Wharton 783). This clearly indicates morning sickness, which is usually associated with the early signs of pregnancy.

3) Why does Crane refer to the characters (except one, late in the story) by their professions, instead of names?

Crane identifies the characters by their occupations (besides one), instead of names, because he wanted to pin point the one person in the story with a name, as a threat to nature. The only one in the story who had a name titled to them was the oiler, Billie. The oilers job represents contamination and pollution to the ocean, where as the other characters jobs like the captain, cook, and correspondent did not. In the quote “The black waves were silent and hard to be seen in the darkness,” it seems as if it is referring to dirty black water, such as an oil spill (Crane 757). Since an oilers job is usually associated with machines and dirt, the occupation in the story is represented as darkness toward nature. Though Billie was the most hard working crew member on the life boat he was unwanted by nature due to his occupation. When the boat began to sink all the men attempted to swim ashore to the island. All but one man, Billie, made it. Even though the oiler was the strongest and fastest swimmer of the men, the waves seem to want to take him down by drowning him with the strong currents. After the oilers death, Crane made everything at the end of the story to sound peaceful. “When it came night, the white waves paced to and fro in the moonlight and the wind brought the sound of the great sea’s voice to the men on the shore” (Crane 763).

4) What is the determinist element in “The Second Choice,” how does it affect the characters and the situations that unfold, where is the influence of the element most keenly seen?

  The determinist element in the short story “The Second Choice” is definitely Shirley. She grew up in a town where everything was pretty much the same everywhere she turned, especially in her own neighborhood. “Bethune street, with its common place front yards and houses nearly alike, and this house, so like the others, room for room and porch for porch, and her parents, too, really like all the others” (Dreiser 790). She seemed to think that the life style she was raised with is the only life style she could ever have, no matter how much she wanted to be different from everyone. Ever since she met Arthur her whole view of life changed. He lived on the wild side of life while she lived in a bubble. Since Arthur’s life style seemed to fascinate her more than her own, she dropped everything that she had going for her to be with him. Shirley’s changing ways really affected her fiancé’ Barton, especially by the way she was sneaking around and dating both of them at the same time. Barton seemed to have a clue that she was having an affair, but she never confessed to her behavior, since she didn’t want to risk losing Barton if Arthur were to leave her. “She had not mentioned Barton to Arthur because-because-well, because Arthur was so much better, and somehow (She admitted it to herself now) she had not been sure that Arthur would care for her long” (Dreiser 792). Her changing ways also affected her parents. They were used to the old fashion way of life where everyone lived the same everyday life style, so they looked down on Shirley’s behavior, especially her mother. After Arthur had left Shirley and Barton stopped coming around to see her, Shirley “felt that she must act – her position as a deserted girl was too much. She could not stand it any longer really- the eyes of her mother, for one” (Dreiser 796). Shirley had no choice but to stick with her second choice of life, which was living the everyday way of life just as her parents had done.

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5) Identify and discuss what you believe to be the central symbol in “To Build a Fire.”

The central symbol in “To Build a Fire” is the man that is hiking through the Yukon. He is nameless to symbolize the everyday human being and so that the reader can vision anybody they want to associate with the character. The man is also symbolic of humans in their attitudes of superiority to most things in the world, such as him thinking that he has nothing to fear from the weather and his intelligence is far greater than that of nature. When an older man experienced with the climate of the Yukon attempted to give the hiker advice “that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below,” the hiker just ignored every bit of it completely , though it was currently “seventy-five below zero: (London 811-815). The hiker’s cockiness even goes as far as calling the older man “womanish” and said to himself “all a man has to do was to keep his head and he was all right” (London 815). Not only does the man completely ignore the older mans advice, he also ignores the signs of his own body telling him that the extreme cold temperatures are just to much for the human body to handle. The mans big ego eventually leads him to death since he refused to take advice from experienced residents and even hints from his dog, who attempts to lead him to his main destination. The overall main meaning of the story is that nature is the one thing on earth that no man will ever be able to change, control, or manipulate. The man is the central symbol in the story to show human kind that no matter how invincible we think we are, inevitable things do happen.


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