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French and Francophone Literature


Vera Theisen


My research focused on four pieces of literature to examine awakenings as examples of the female voice. An awakening I defined as a woman rediscovering herself and the world around her. I consulted The Awakening and "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, an American woman, as well as La Petite Fadette and Indiana by George Sand, a Frenchwoman, to explore different types of awakenings within different contexts. To examine an awakening further, I used a theory explained by Elaine Showalter, a feminist critic, and Shirley and Edwin Ardener, anthropologists, as "The Wild Zone," an area of women¹s culture. The wild zone is outside the realm of male- dominated culture, so experiences occurring here are unique to women. I explained that these awakenings were derived from the wild zone. I also addressed the fact that restrictions on these awakenings, placed there by society, strengthen the entire experience because the women are forced to overcome them. I concluded that these authors, writing before modern feminist theory existed, spoke of the female experience and the difficulties faced in the wild zone.