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Kate Chopin on Slipping The Social Norms

Kate Chopin on Slipping The Social Norms

She was becoming herself, casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment. - Kate Chopin

This poignant quotation is from Chopin's beloved novel, "The Awakening,” and in our illustration, a woman slips off the words that once defined her. Kate Chopin was a feminist before her time. “The Awakening," which was published in 1899, was controversial and considered a failure. It wasn’t until the 1970s feminist movement that it became more widely read and recognized as a pioneering work in women’s literature.

This line comes at a point in the story where the protagonist is at her most triumphant. If the garment in the illustration represents the expectations and conventions she is compelled to assume, this is her most authentic, naked self. I love that she’s engaged in making art as she discovers herself. For me, art has always been a process of self-discovery, and requires one to be comfortable being in a liminal state between left and right brain stuff. Faster, corpus collosum, faster! Connect! Connect!

Although this illustration and quotation are specifically oriented towards womanhood, there is a universal wisdom in truly embracing the state of “becoming,” with one foot in the known/established and one in the unknown/forbidden.

This drawing is from my illustrated book Women Writers: Collected Works & Poems.

About the Art

“In this illustration, the text of other people in the novel is woven together into a garment. The woman is shown between two states - dressed and undressed, light and dark, delicate and defiant - exactly in the moment of ‘becoming.’”

Art by Evan Robertson. All rights reserved.

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