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Vocabulary in The Awakening

Vocabulary Examples in The Awakening:

Chapter VI

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"sensuous..."   (Chapter VI)

“Sensuous” is an adjective that means affecting the physical senses instead of the mind. However, it is also a double entendre (a word with multiple meanings) that means sexually or physically gratifying. Within this metaphor, Chopin suggests that Edna’s awakening will also be sexual.

"a marriage with the tragedian..."   (Chapter VII)

A “tragedian” refers to an actor or writer who specializes in performing or writing screenplays for tragedies. It’s a little ironic that the younger Edna would have found bliss with someone who specialized in tragedy, particularly because she chooses someone that she does not love and creates a less fulfilling, tragic situation for herself.

"acme of bliss..."   (Chapter VII)

The noun “acme” refers to the point at which someone or something is at its best. So, since it is paired with “bliss” (meaning perfect happiness), the phrase “acme of bliss” refers to the most absolute and perfect happiness that someone can experience.

"effulgence..."   (Chapter IX)

“Effulgence” is a noun that means brilliant radiance or shining forth. The narrator uses this word to refer to Edna’s experience of the setting sun and the rising moon.

"pirogue..."   (Chapter XII)

A “pirogue” is a long narrow canoe that is made of a single tree trunk. The style of boat is particularly popular in Central America and the Caribbean.

"quadroon..."   (Chapter XV)

A “quadroon” is an offensive term for a person who is one-quarter black by descent. From this context, we can infer that this woman seems to work as a nanny in Edna’s house.

"She felt no interest in anything about her. The street, the children, the fruit vender, the flowers growing there under her eyes, were all part and parcel of an alien world which had suddenly become antagonistic. ..."   (Chapter XVIII)

“Alien” in this context means foreign. Edna no longer associates herself with the world that she lives in or the life that she leads. Calling this foreign world “antagonistic” also suggests that this world is threatening to Edna, perhaps because she cannot leave it.

"perambulated..."   (Chapter XXIV)

“Perambulated” is a verb that means to walk or travel through or around a place or area, especially for pleasure and in a leisurely way. This characterization of Edna’s gait sharply contrasts the presentation of her at the beginning of the scene. She goes from fulfilling her duties as a wife and stubbornly refusing to go to her sister’s wedding to walking leisurely around her property. This shows Edna’s freedom after her husband and children leave.

"patois..."   (Chapter XXXIV)

A “patois” does not refer to a specific language; rather, it means a local or regional vernacular, or dialect. Celestine’s chatting with Robert in their patois allows them to experience a sense of their intimate community.

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