The Awakening: Novel Summary: Part 18

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Chapter 18

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Edna's sense of being a stranger in her own world is reinforced when, standing on the front veranda of her house the next morning, she feels "no interest in anything about her." Her surroundings, even her children, are all "part and parcel of an alien world which had suddenly become antagonistic."
Edna goes to visit Madame Ratignolle, whom she finds engaged in the domestic duty of sorting laundry, even though a servant "can do it as well as I." Edna, who has brought some sketches she feels are unsatisfactory with her, expresses a desire to paint Ad�le's picture some day. Is this statement, perhaps, as close as Edna can come to expressing a desire which she believes she ought to feel, but does not, to emulate Ad�le's domestic happiness? Edna herself uses the language of obligation-"I believe I ought to work again" (emphasis added)-strange vocabulary to use when speaking of a hobby, presumably pursued for pleasure! Even as she asks Ad�le for her opinion, Edna knows it will "be next to valueless." And while Edna is pleased by Madame Ratignolle's praise of her work, she nevertheless leaves most of it with her.
When Mr. Ratignolle returns for dinner, Edna dines with them. At first, she compares the Ratignolle's home life to her own by thinking of Proverbs 15:17: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (KJV). To her surprise, she finds the actual meal quite satisfying. But she does not leave the Ratignolles with a longing for the "domestic harmony" they have: "It was not a condition of life which fitted her, and she could see in it but an appalling and hopeless ennui." So far from feeling envious of Ad�le, which she had hoped she might, Edna feels nothing but pity.

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