The Awakening: Novel Summary: Part 33

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Chapter 33

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Madame Ratignolle "drag[s] herself over" to Edna's new home-a marvelous phrase, as if to signify that the ideal mother-woman cannot quite bring herself to stoop to a world of different feminine ideals. She laments that Edna has not recently been in contact with her. She warns Edna that Edna "seem[s] to act without a certain amount of reflection which is necessary in this life." She also tells Edna that Arobin's visits to her (Edna) have become the subject of gossip: "Monsieur Ratignolle was telling me that his [that is, Arobin's] attentions alone are considered enough to ruin a woman's name."
Edna visits Mademoiselle Reisz so frequently now she can let herself into the apartment if Reisz is not home. One afternoon, while she is in the apartment waiting for Reisz to return, Robert arrives. She learns, to her dismay, that he has returned to New Orleans "the day before yesterday"; she had imagined that Robert would seek her out immediately. Further, she learns that he has returned, not out of love for her, but because his business in Mexico proved unprofitable. Upset, Edna makes as if to leave. Robert leaves with her, following her to her new home, which makes Edna think that perhaps her fantasies will materialize after all. She attempts to persuade Robert to stay for dinner. Robert stays, but only reluctantly, and without any explicit commitment to sharing the meal with Edna. He is seemingly alarmed to find Arobin's picture on Edna's table. Perhaps this moment illustrates that Robert, too, is as much a captive of les convenances as anyone else in Edna's world, a world to which she increasingly does not belong. Edna explains that she has been using Arobin's picture in her artwork. She distracts Robert from further talk of Arobin by getting him to talk about himself instead. He confesses that he has been "working like a machine, and feeling like a lost soul"-a confession which Edna then echoes. No wonder she feels like a lost soul: even her beloved Robert, idealized in memory, is failing to sustain the awakening he once sparked, during that summer on Grand Isle.

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