The Pontellier’s house in New Orleans was big; it was painted white and it had green shutters. The house and the garden were up kept perfectly. Mr. Pontellier had bought for his wife only the best things for the house. He carefully picked out paintings to hang on the walls. Mrs. Pontellier was the envy of all wives; her husband was very generous. He put great value on his possessions.
Tuesday was Edna’s reception day; she would be in the drawing-room all day receiving guests. She had stuck to this schedule the entire time they had been married. Mr. Pontellier left between nine and ten o’clock every morning and didn’t return until six in the evening.
A few weeks after they had come home from Grande Isle, Mr. and Mrs. Pontellier sat down to dinner. Mr. Pontellier noticed that Edna was not wearing her usual reception dress. He asked her if she was tired from having a lot of callers that day. Edna told him that there had been a lot, but she wasn’t home to see them; they left their cards. Mr. Pontellier was angry; he told her that she couldn’t just go out without leaving an appropriate excuse.
Edna tried to change the subject by commenting on the poorly made soup, but Mr. Pontellier quickly brought the conversation back to that day’s visitors. He asked her if Mrs. Belthrop had stopped by, because her husband was very important to him business. Edna said that she didn’t remember, and had one of the servants bring her the tray with everyone’s cards. When the servant brought the tray, Edna instructed him to give it to Mr. Pontellier. He started looking through the cards, commenting on the visitors that she had missed seeing that day. Edna was getting annoyed.
The fish was burned and Mr. Pontellier would not eat it. For some reason he did not like the roast either and the vegetables offended in some unknown way also. He complained that Edna didn’t manage her staff well and that’s why the dinner was so unpleasant.
Mr. Pontellier got up to leave and Edna asked him where he was going. He replied very curtly that he was going to have dinner down at the club, and he left. These sorts of scenes happened often, and they use to really upset her. She would not be able to finish her dinner, because she was so upset. She would go into the kitchen and lecture the cook, and then set about writing up a menu for the week. That night was different; she remained at the table and made herself finish her meal. Once she had finished she went into her room, and left word that she was not to be disturbed. She was pacing her room with a handkerchief in her hands, which ended up in shreds. She took off her wedding ring and threw it on the floor. She stomped on it, but she didn’t make a scratch on it. She needed to break something, so she took a vase and threw it at the hearth. The maid heard the noise and came in; she insisted on cleaning up the mess despite Edna’s objections. She found Enda’s ring and handed it back to her; Edna put it back on her finger.
Character Descriptions and Paper Topics:
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1995.