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Many different symbols were utilized in Kate Chopins The Awakening to illustrate the underlying themes and internal conflict of the characters One constant and re-emerging symbol is the sea The voice of the sea is seductive never ceasing whispering clamoring murmuring inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation The voice of the sea speaks to the soul The touch of the sea is sensuous enfolding the body in its soft close embrace 25 In the novel the ocean symbolizes Ednas awakening to a life filled with freedom and independence On a hot summer evening Robert and Edna go bathing Although Edna does not wish to go and initially declines his offer something inside is compelling her to go down to the water It is there in the seductive ocean that Ednas awakening begins A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her she was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her 25 That warm ocean environment is in direct contrast to the responsibilities and rules of the cold hard city And it is there in that relaxed and forgiving atmosphere that Edna can explore her new found freedoms While relaxing on the beach with Mrs Ratignolle the sight of the endless ocean brings back memories from Ednas childhood She suddenly recalls a summer day in Kentucky and a meadow that seemed as big as the ocean to the very little girland I felt as if I must walk on forever without coming to the end of it I dont remember whether I was frightened or pleased 30 A strong connection between the Kentucky meadow and the ocean before her links her present experience to her childhood This rebirth takes her back
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