Essay: The Awakening

The hardest part of writing an assignment is usually the beginning. Where to start? Procrastinations often occur e.g. grabbing a cup of coffee before sitting down and getting the work done. Then you figure that you should probably go for a run just to clear your mind. And this way of thinking could go on for hours. In Ann Armitage’s story ‘The Awakening’, we meet Ellie, who wakes up in the late afternoon after rough night out, only to find out that she has an important essay due to the following day. Despite her stressful situation, she still decides to go for trip into city to pick up an ink cartridge for her printer. Even though this little trip is based upon procrastination, Ellie experiences new perspectives upon life along the way. What happens on this trip, and which effect does it have on Ellie’s character?
The story takes place in London where the main character Ellie wakes up late in the afternoon after a rough night out in the city. She could be living in a dormitory, since she has her own sink in her room but is not clear from the text. The narrator gives a good impression of what it is like to be in her room, but we do not hear that many details about how the room looks. This is actually characteristic for this short story ‘ not that many details, but instead a lot emotions and senses. For example when Ellie is making her way to the Study Shop (p.2 ll. 42-45):
The air is cold, makes her gasp, cold and hurting on her ragged lungs. The light is bright, searing light from the sun. Setting sun. Ellie pulls her hat down and shoulders her way over towards Gower Street. Crosses Tot??tenham Court Road, over to the big UCL quad.
From this text example, we sense the way Ellie feels as she walks through the mentioned streets, but we do not hear what they look like. Apart from this, the places that Ellie go or have been to, are often described with a degree of light. On the very first page, the story begins with a description of the room being a wrong dark, and later the barn she was partying in the night before is described as light-filled. This is description helps us figure out, that Ellie is not really interested in her school ‘ She would rather be partying.
Ellie is a girl in her late teens or early twenties due to the combination of her extensive partying in the evening and her participation in the specific course. The interesting part of this story however, lies in the way Ellie looks upon the world and herself, and how that changes throughout the story. In the beginning, the assignment stresses her, which we see in the short sentences that describe her workflow, as she tries to begin on the essay (p.1 ll. 32-33): ‘Yessssss! Clever Ellie. Little bump just to get things started. Nice, now. Coffee. Swill out cafeti??re, fill it. Computer. Is. On. Fags’ Student Shop. ‘ Ellie is clearly trying to make it all work together, but at this point, she has not yet begun her writing. As Ellie begins her quest to find the ink cartridge, she stumbles upon a black glove lying with its middle finger raised. Ellie cannot help laughing a little, and it reminds her for whom she is actually doing this study course. Is it her parents or herself? It is definitely not her wish to continue on the course. As the trip begins, she talks about people walking in the street (p.2 ll. 56-58):
There is clarity to the air, a quickening; it is the time of day, the time of year. There a people moving to-gether, here in this part of London, moving with purpose, with meaning, and Ellie is one of them.
In this text example, we hear that Ellie is moving with purpose through the crowd of people. What is inter??esting is that when Ellie starts feeling better after her life/death situation, she experiences things that gives her a new view upon the persons walking among her. As she walks in the end of the story, the people are described in the following way (pp. 3-4 ll. 119-121):
Ellie walks out of the shop and onto the street. It is filled with people, and everyone, everyone Ellie sees has the same substance within them, around them, connecting them, looping between them in great bonds of love.
In this part, what before was purposeful walking, has now turned into loving bonds between all them, Ellie included. How did Ellie’s perspective change? As she is sitting in the shop, she picks up a stone that reminds her of her mother, and she realizes she is able to get her assignment done and complete the study course.
Ann Armitage’s story uses an interesting narrative technique that might also add useful information about Ellie to our understanding. In this story, we see a third person, limited narrator. This is interesting, because it turns the text into a mixture of storytelling and Ellie’s personal thoughts told in a certain stream-of-con??sciousness manner. This can be seen in the following text example (p. 3 ll. 86-89)
Ellie doesn’t want to go to a shop now, couldn’t go into a shop now, doesn’t want any more coke, ever again. She wants to be outside, to stay outside to walk and walk and walk.
The example starts out by telling that Ellie is not capable of entering any shop at this very moment, and then begins enumerating other circumstances that come into Ellie’s mind as a continuous flow. Besides the fact that this narrative technique gives both an insight into Ellie’s mind and the world around her, it is also very interesting because of the mentioning of inter-war period author Virginia Woolf. Woolf’s works often contain the use of stream-of-consciousness narration. Therefore, this text is probably a reference to Woolf. This statement is underlined heavily when the lives of Virginia Woolf and Ellie are compared. In her teenage years, Woolf lost her mother, and in this story, we are told that Ellie’s mother has left with some person for good.
The Awakening is a story of a girl who learns to love life, and accept what it brings her. As Ellie feels better again, the loving memory of her mother makes her confident that she is able to get the assignment done in time.

Source: Essay UK -

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