Edna walked into the dining room; she was late as usual. She sat down and began to eat her soup when several people told her that Robert was going to Mexico. She was surprised, because she had spent all morning with him, and he hadn’t said anything about going to Mexico. She looked across the table at him with an air of bewilderment; he returned her gaze appearing a little uneasy. She asked those around her when he was leaving, and they replied that he was going that night. She was again shocked; how could someone decide to go to Mexico on the spur of the moment? Robert was irritated; he told everyone that he had been saying for years that he was going to Mexico.
Madame Lebrun broke up the chatter, and bid them to let Robert explain why he was leaving so suddenly. Robert addressed everyone, but looked specifically at Edna, and said that he had to meet the men, whom he intended to go with to Vera Cruz, on a specific day. The only way could meet them on that appointed day was if he left immediately.
Edna managed to eat the majority of her soup, despite the distraction of Robert’s impending departure. Madame Ratignolle told Robert to be careful, because Mexicans “were a treacherous people, unscrupulous and revengeful” (58). She had only ever met one Mexican; he seemed like a nice man, but he was later charged with stabbing his wife.
Edna couldn’t believe her ears; she could only think of Robert. She asked him when he was leaving; he told her that he was going to be leaving at ten o’clock that night. He turned for a second to answer a question posed to him by his mother, and Edna took that opportunity to leave the table.
Edna went back to her cottage, and began to busy herself with straightening up the toilet-stand. She picked up clothes that had been strewn around the room, and put them away. Edna changed into a dress that was more comfortable. She went into the boy’s room, dismissed the quadroon, and told the boys a story before bed. The story excited the boys; instead of soothing them, and they stayed up debating the end of the story after she had finished.
Madam Lebrun sent her “little black girl” to invite Edna to the main house to sit with them until Robert left. She told the girl to tell Madam Lebrun that she had already undressed and that she didn’t feel all that well, but that she might come over later.
Madame Ratignolle came over to see what was wrong. Edna said that the commotion at dinner must have upset her. She didn’t like to be surprised like that. She didn’t understand how someone could just pick up and leave so suddenly. Adèle said that she agreed, and it was very inconsiderate of him, especially towards Edna. She then tried to persuade Edna to come down to the main house, because it would be rude not to. Edna refused, but told her that she should go. Adèle kissed her goodbye and went to the main house.
Later that night, Robert came by with his bag in his hand. He asked her if she was feeling alright; she replied that she felt okay. She asked him when he was leaving; he said that he had to leave in twenty minutes. She asked him how long he would be gone. He said that he may be gone forever; it depended on how things worked out. She told him that she didn’t understand why he hadn’t said anything to her that morning. He asked her not to be angry with him; he didn’t want to leave with her upset with him. She said that she didn’t want to be upset. She didn’t want to be without him; she was even looking forward to seeing him in the city that winter. He sputtered that he had hoped to see her in the city also, and that was perhaps the; he stopped short and held out his hand to her to say goodbye. He walked away. Edna fought to hold back the tears. She realized at that moment how infatuated she had been with him; it reminded her of her adolescence. “The past was nothing to her; offered no lesson which she was willing to heed. The future was a mystery which she never attempted to penetrate. The present alone was significant; was hers, to torture her as it was doing then with the biting conviction that she had lost that which she had held, that she had been denied that which she impassioned, newly awakened being demanded” (62).
Character Descriptions and Paper Topics:
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1995.