In this novella, the bird motif represents Edna, and by extension women and their desire to be independent and free. Edna and women's movement in the Victorian community are likened to birds in a cage that shows they are limited to communicate as they would wish with others around them. The main aim of this essay is to discuss how the motif of birds has been used to build the theme of awakening.
When birds are caged, they remind us the way Edna as well as women is entrapped in an unawakening state. They have not experienced any awakening so that they break off the barriers that the family and the society at have established on their way. Her first awakening is when she takes a "flight" from her husband, hence from other responsibilities associated with marriage. This did not turn out to be full awaking as she again got caught up in a different "pigeon house" not far from her former house.
In the new house without her husband, Leónce, and house chores to perform, she got some freedom wherein, unfortunately, she was reminded constantly of responsibilities she had everywhere. Owing to the influence of Madame Ratignolle, Edna meets another man, Robert and tries to "perch" on him but he becomes very slippery. Awakening is represented by the act in the bird motif of acquiring "strong wings" to enable the bird to fly high over prejudice and traditions. Edna gets this awakening, but it is heartbreaking to note that at the end of the novel Edna ends up battered, fluttered and exhausted (Glen et al, n.d).
Just like a bird that can land on several trees looking for the safest and most comfortable place depending on the strength of its wings, Edna is trying to move from her past lifestyle to another free and independent. Every time she settles down feeling at ease with minimum responsibilities, especially away from her husband, is an awakening. Unfortunately, she never got a lasting awakening and finally died battered and disillusioned by life. We learn that awakening is achieved by uniting with others to bring about the satisfaction to as many as possible.