The Awakening
Kate Chopin
Contributed by Loretta Ingwersen
Chapter 21-23

Mademoiselle’s Reisz’s apartment under the roof is hidden from traffic and has a beautiful view of the Mississippi River. She is shocked and elated to see Edna arrive on her doorstep, thinking that she was never coming. She teases Edna about being a society woman with no time. Edna relates the news of her painting. Robert has also sent Mademoiselle Reisz letters about Edna, wondering how she is, how she looks, and asking her to play a Chopin piece on the piano for her. Mademoiselle Reisz does not allow Edna to see the letter, for she believes letters are only for the eyes of the intended. When Edna speaks more of her desires to be a painter, Mademoiselle shows her that many things are essential to becoming a true artist. A courageous soul is part of the artist mentality. "Courageous, ma foi! The brave soul. The soul that dares and defies" Chapter 21, pg. 84. Mademoiselle places the letter in Edna’s hands and plays the Chopin Impromptu at both her and Robert’s written request. Edna sobs as she hears the music, for it elicits the emotions she felt earlier in the summer. After the music stops, she asks if she can return. Mademoiselle is thrilled to look forward to another visit from Edna. After Edna leaves, Mademoiselle Reisz picks up the tear-drenched letter from the ground and returns it to her drawer.

On his way into town one morning, Mr. Pontellier stops to visit his dear, old friend, Dr. Mandelet, a retired, wealthy, aristocratic-like man who still tends to his devoted patients, such as the Pontellier family. He wonders if Leonce is ill. Leonce comes to speak to the doctor about his wife, for he is worried about her peculiar actions and new attitude on life. He complains that she has forgotten her housework, comes in late, and doesn’t associate with anyone anymore. She is from good old Presbyterian Kentucky stock, he claims, so there can be no problem with heredity. Edna’s younger sister, Janet, is to be married shortly, and the doctor thinks it a good idea to send her to it; however, Edna claims that weddings are the most lamentable spectacle on earth. The doctor begins to try and explain women, as a whole, to Mr. Pontellier.

"Woman, my dear friend, is a very peculiar and delicate organism - a sensitive and highly organized woman, such as I know Mrs. Pontellier to be, is especially peculiar. It would require an inspired psychologist to deal successfully with them. And when ordinary fellows like you and me attempt to cope with their idiosyncrasies the result is bungling. Most women are moody and whimsical. This is some passing whim of your wife, due to some cause or cause which you and I needn’t try to fathom." Chapter 22, pg. 87

Mr. Pontellier is leaving for New York for business in a little bit and wonders if he should take Edna along. Dr. Mandelet tells him to leave her and to let her do what she pleases, for her mood will inevitably pass.

Edna’s father is in town for a visit. He was a Colonel in the confederate army, and together, they look like a dignified family. They go to one of the Ratignolle’s soirées and enjoy themselves. He wonders why Mr. Pontellier doesn’t go out at night with them, and implies that if they spent more time together in the evenings, their marriage might be stronger. Edna claims that they would have nothing to say to each other at night. Edna enjoys waiting on her father and will not allow a servant to do anything that she could not do herself. Dinner is excellent, everyone tells stories of race horsing and lost loves, and drink Champagne. Doctor Mandelet grows frustrated and feels too old to be gallivanting around town as such.

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