The Awakening
Kate Chopin
Contributed by Loretta Ingwersen
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Chapter 28-30

That evening, Edna cries herself to sleep, mixed with emotions of love, of passion, guilt, pride, and awakening. She worries little of her husband, but feels remorse for her first kiss of the like not coming from love. She is trying to understand her new awakening and is shocked and thrilled by the unusual and unaccustomed nature of her desires.

Alcee visits Edna, who is cleaning with the servants in the pigeon-house, the smaller, new abode of her independent spirit. She looks ravishing to Alcee with her hair pulled back to protect it from the dust, scrubbing the grime away from the floors. She tells him to get ready for the big dinner, which he calls a coup d’etat, and for which she is sending the bill to Leonce, still out of town. Alcee desires her, but he must wait, for she is preoccupied with so much, including her big move and grand dinner party.

The dinner is a small, intimate affair that originally caters to twelve, but due to last minute regrets of Adele Ratignolle and Madame Lebrun, only consists of ten guests: Mr. And Mrs. Merriman, Mrs. Highcamp, Alcee Arobin, Mademoiselle Reisz, Monsieur Ratignolle, Victor Lebrun, Miss Mayblunt, a twenty-something intellectual, and her companion, Mr. Gouvernail. The table is garnished with yellow flowing material and each place setting holds a mixture of sparkling diamonds. Edna wears a new bouquet of diamonds in her hair that she announces is a gift from her husband. Today is her birthday and everyone may toast to her health for her 29th year, her sister Janet’s wedding, and her father, the Colonel. Everyone falls into different conversations, distinct gossip, and keen observations of one another. Edna looks exquisite in her satin gown and lace covering. "There was something in her attitude, in her whole appearance when she leaned her head against the high-backed chair and spread her arms, which suggested the regal woman, the one who rules, who looks on, who stands alone" Chapter 30, pg. 117-118.

After several hours of small talk and wonderful company, Monsieur Ratignolle excuses himself to go home to his wife at ten o’clock. He begins the exodus from Mrs. Pontellier’s home, followed next by Mrs. Highcamp and Victor Lebrun, posing in the light with champagne and Mrs. Highcamp’s scarf. After playful flirting and slightly inebriated laughter, Edna physically places her hand on Victor’s mouth telling her to return the scarf. As he kisses her hand, she feels a passionate sting. Mrs. Highcamp gathers Victor, beckons him to call on her daughter, and leaves. Everyone else realizes that it is time to return home, except for Alcee Arobin, who remains. The voices of Edna’s guests linger in the night.

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