The Awakening: Novel Summary: Part 23

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Chapter 23

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Edna's father-"the Colonel"-has come to New Orleans to buy a gift for Janet's approaching wedding and stays with the Pontelliers. Although Edna has not been close to him, his visit "furnish[es] a new direction for emotions." Much to his delight-for he has a high opinion of the great potential he gave to his offspring-Edna sketches him. She also takes him to a musical party at the Ratignolles', where Madame Ratignolle flirts with him-also to his great delight. The Colonel keeps Edna busy attending to him, and Edna finds that it "amused her to do so." Mr. Pontellier mistakes her attentions to her father as "a deep filial attachment," when in fact Edna seems to be exploring her newly awakened emotions in a new way, as if she is trying on another role for herself.
Doctor Mandelet dines with the family and notices the change in Edna of which her husband spoke: she reminds him "of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun." As part of the after-dinner entertainment, Mandelet tells a story about a woman whose love grows restless, "seeking strange, new channels, only to return to its legitimate source . . . ." For her part, Edna tells the story of a woman who sails away with a lover, never to return. Although she makes up the story, her listeners accept it as truth, so convincing is her delivery of it. Mandelet regrets attending the dinner. He does not want to become involved in the intimate, domestic dramas of his patients. He hopes that Alc�e Arobin is not the other man in Edna's life.

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