Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

Hulme and Chopin’s works against motherhood

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One Whale, Singing written by Keri Hulme and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening both depict situations involving mothers who do not want to be mothers.

In One Whale, Singing, Hulme writes,

“Don’t refer to it as a person! It is a canker in me, a parasite. It is nothing to me. I feel it squirm and kick, and sicken at the moment” (856).

Obviously referring to the fetus in her womb, the protagonist is very angry and uneasy about this soon-to-be child.


In The Awakening, Chopin writes,


“An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish. It was like a shadow, like a mist passing across her soul’s summer day” (700).


This “oppression” is referring to being the perfect “mother woman” and wife, which Edna feels chains her and her self being.


Unlike Edna in The Awakening, the protagonist in One Whale, Singing, eventually embraces her motherhood.

“‘I am now alone in the dark,’ she thinks, and the salt water laps round her mouth. ‘How strange, if this is to be the summation of my life.’

In her womb the child kicked. Buoyed by the sea, she feels the movement as something gentle and familiar, dear to her for the first time.

She begins to laugh.

The sea is warm and confiding, and it is a long long way to shore”  (860).

This gente and familiar feeling which she finally feels shows how much the child truly means to her. By identifying with the whale, she helps to realize how important and wonderful the gift in her womb was.


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