Edna a Bad or Good Mother?
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Edna is a main character of the Awakening. She not only acknowledge her sexual desire but also has courage to act on them. (from Analysis of Major Characters). She is really respectable woman in Grand Isle. However. When we consider her as a mother, is she a good mother?
Edna has a close friend whose name is Adele Ratignolle. Their philosophies and attitudes toward child rearing differ fundamentally. Adele is described “was the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm”. She has been marriage seven years and has three babies. Adele adores her husband and idolises her children. She sacrifices personal identity to devote her entire being to care of her children, husband and household. She feel delicious in the role so she can do everything because of them. She loves and take care of her brood carefully. She saw winter garment for her children openly makes references to her pregnency. Moreover, the mother is willing to extended protecting wings when she feel something or someone threatened her brood, which like the hen extend wings to save chicken from hawks. Adele is gentle and thoughtful, a ideal mother that every children wish.
Unlike Adele, Edna’s husband_Leonce perceives difference between his wife and the other women, who “esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels”. Although Edna married and had two children, her passion is so flaming that she pass over the role of a woman. She discovered her own identity independent of her husband and her children. Edna “was not a mother-woman”, Instead of worshiping husband and taking care of children, she declared herself independent. She ignores her role. I supposes that a child took a tumble while at play, what happen? Certain;y, his mother will pick himself up hurriedly, wipe his tears and comfort him. However, Edna did not do the same thing, if one of her sons get similar situation, “he was not apt to rush crying to his mother’s arms for comfort, he would more likely pick himself up, wipe the water out of his eyes and the sand out of his mouth and go on playing”.
Another detail, she is heedless, “Mrs.Pontillier’s mind was quite at rest concerning the present material needs of her children”. She feels her children’s summer needs are being met and is not interested in anticipating their winter need. Compared with other children, it is unfair for the little Pontellier boys. They seemed lack of mother’s love. In the first look, some people wondered why could Edna act? She is a bad mother, is not she? Pursuing her dream so that forgetting the children, which is selfish and irresponsible but everything has two sides, nothing is absolute. Edna’s action has positive effect either. It make her children strong and independent.
In fact, in playground conflicts, Edna’s boys “ usually prevailed against the other mother-tots” who are more dependent upon their mother as external sources of comfort and strength. Parent want their brood to grow up be independent and confident. However, mothers often fear them injure, so they still save children until they are out of strength to do it. As a result, children became passive, they could not solve problem in their life. It is difficult to survive if their parents are not in their side. Parents can not take care of their brood during life. Sooner or later, children have to live apart from parents, they must be independent, so why do not we train them at young age?
Another aspect, I feel Edna is a good mother, she taught her children pick themselves up when they fell, courage to face with problem. Her characteristics is brave and passionate. Therefore, she wants her sons as same as her, a person who is fantastic, active, independent and brave. She ignores all of her social responsibilities to pursue her dream.
In Europe, children are allowed to do anything they want. Their parents only stand in side and observe. Sometimes, they are in trouble, has mistakes or failure, family members will comfort and give advices. European parents are never interrupt children’s life. They want their children get experiences and courage to pick up after failure. Therefore, children grow up independent and confident. These behaviors are not mean they do not love their children. A mother who takes care of children carefully is good but a good mother is person who not only concern her children but also teach them know how to live and survive in this life. And Edna has done it excellently.