The Awakening: Novel Summary: Part 37

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Edna's visit to Madame Ratignolle seems to possess a near-revelatory quality. As the ailing, ideal mother-woman laments that she has been left alone (despite the many people, Edna among them, attending to her needs), Edna is "seized with a vague dread." She recalls giving birth to one of her children: "a little new life to which she had given being, added to the great unnumbered multitude of souls that come and go." Ironically, then, when Edna kisses Madame Ratignolle good-bye-a farewell in more than the literal sense, a farewell to all that this character represents-the mother-woman adjures Edna, "Think of the children!" Edna is thinking of the children-and the thought does not bring her comfort or encouragement, but dread.

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