#3: kate chopin's the awakening
the first time i read this text--in a post-civil war american survey course in undergrad--i was struck by the way the women were portrayed. mme. ratignolle. mlle. reisz, and mme. pontellier are such different people--each with their own personalities, desires, and needs. they're so distinct, yet they are each essential to the framework of the narrative.
it is perhaps easy to understand why chopin was challenged/banned and regarded as a lesser writer in her own time. gender roles were defined differently than they are today. but i can think of no reason why her work should be confronted with this kind of brutality today. it is a simple book. a lovely book. a book that speaks volumes.