The Awakening
Kate Chopin
Contributed by Loretta Ingwersen
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Chapter 37-39

When Edna arrives at the Ratignolle home, Monsieur is waiting in the drugstore, thrilled to see her. He tells her that Doctor Mandelet is excessively late and must be replaced. Edna feels unnecessary, but does not leave. She goes inside to say goodbye to her dear friend. She looks ill, with her hair strewn and fallen down and beads of sweat appear over her forehead. Adele whispers in Edna’s ears to think of the children.

Doctor Mandelet walks with Edna is the cool, spring, night air, telling her that she should not have been there - it was cruel. Edna shrugs off his comments speaking of the children and thinking of everything else ahead of her. He inquires about Leonce and their pending trip abroad. Edna declares that she is not going with him and will not be forced into doing anything that she does not want to do. She thinks no one, except for children, should be made to do something that is not desirable. He advises her, but understands, and bids good night.

As Edna returns to her pigeon-house, her expectancy and excitement of being with Robert, awakening him with a kiss, overtakes her entire being. Her desire for Robert conflicts with Adele’s final words to remember the children. She does not care and only wants to be with her love. However, when she enters the parlor, Robert is nowhere to be found. He has left a note. "I love you. Good-by - because I love you" Chapter 38, pg. 148. Edna feels faint, throws herself on the sofa, and sits there in complete silence for the remainder of the night in horrific shock and pain.

Victor Lebrun patches a corner of the gallery with a hammer and nails, next to Mariequita, speaking highly and persistently of the glorious dinner party thrown by Mrs. Pontellier. Edna believes him to be in love with her, and knows that she could run off with any man of her choice. She teases him and walks around the corner hoping to rest.

While waiting for dinner, Edna decides to dip her feet into the water at the beach and rushes off to gather towels from Victor. She does not think of anything, for any thought that could possibly run through her mind, did so the night Robert abandoned her on the sofa. In her head, she ponders her life. She knows that she can have Arobin today and someone else tomorrow. It matters little to her. Leonce matters little to her. Her children do matter and suddenly she remembers what Adele meant when they spoke of sacrifice for their children. She could never do so. She only wants to be with Robert and nothing else matters at this point. She thinks only of him as she walks to the ocean, forgetting Raul and Etienne.

"The water of the Gulf stretched out before her, gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander n abysses of solitude. All along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water." Chapter 39, pg. 151-152

She sees her old bathing suit hanging, faded, on the peg. Instead of dressing, she removes her clothing and stands in front of the ocean, naked as a baby awakening its eyes into a new world. She walks toward the waves, despite the cold wetness thrashing upon her delicate skin. She continues to swim out far into the ocean and remembers the time long ago when she was frightened in the deep water. She is not afraid and continues out farther and farther. Although her body is becoming tired with exhaustion, thoughts of Leonce and the children play in her mind. She hears Mademoiselle Reisz speak of pretentious artists, wondering if she is one. She heard Robert read his note saying "Goodbye - because I love you." She thinks he never understood her feelings, that nobody, perhaps with the exception of Doctor Mandelet, could understand her. However, it is too late to inquire, for she is too far out from shore and exhausted.

"She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again. Edna heard her father’s voice and her sister Margaret’s. She heard the barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air." Chapter 39, pg. 153

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