Edna had always been lost in her own world. She knew the difference between the outer world that conforms to society’s demands, and the inner world that questions everything. Adèle Ratignolle helped her to loosen the divide between these two worlds that summer. Edna had felt a special connection with her for some reason, maybe it was her beauty or maybe it was her whole existence.
One morning Edna and Adèle went down to the beach together; Edna had managed to talk her out of bringing the children, and somehow they managed to escape Robert. Adèle did insist on bringing her needlework, despite Edna’s attempt to get her to leave it behind.
Edna wore loose muslin and her big straw hat, while Adèle, who cared more about her complexion, wore a veil on head and gloves that covered her wrists.
Along the shore there was many bath-houses, each family was assigned a specific bath-house. The Ratignolle and Pontellier had adjoining bath-houses. Edna and Adèle had no intention of swimming when they walked down to the bath-houses. When they arrived Edna went into her bath-house and retrieved a rug and a couple of pillows, which she placed up against the outer wall of the bath-house. They sat down with their backs up against the pillows. Adèle took off her veil and started to fan herself; Edna unbuttoned her dress around her throat, then she took the fan from her companion and began to fan them both. It was very hot, and there was a breeze that made them have to readjust their skirts often.
Edna stared out to sea, looking at all of the objects in her horizon. Adèle asked her what or who she was thinking about, and she replied that she was not thinking about anything. She quickly corrected herself, saying that the warm breeze reminded her of a day when she was a little girl in Kentucky; she was in a large green field, running away from the Presbyterian Church.
Adèle asker her if she was still running away from her prayers. Edna replied that when she was twelve, religion became her life. It has sort of become habit now. She leaned into Adèle and said that this summer felt to her like she was walking through that same meadow, aimlessly. Adèle held Edna’s hand, stroking it softly. Edna was a little uncomfortable at first, but realized that Creoles were like this. She was not used to any outward signs of affection, not even among her own family.
When she was a young lady, she became enamored with a tragedian. She kept a picture of him on her desk. When she was all alone she liked to kiss the picture passionately. Edna met her husband, Léonce, while she was infatuated with the tragedian. He fell in love with her, and his devotion to her was flattering. She agreed to marry Léonce, the Catholic, despite her father and sister’s strong objections. She knew that she and the tragedian would never be together, so she decided that it would be best to marry a man that worshipped her. Edna liked her husband well enough, but there was no passion in their relationship.
Just like her marriage, motherhood seemed like it was thrust upon her by Fate. Sometimes she wanted her children close to her, and other times she would forget about them. She liked it when they spent the summer with their grandmother Pontellier, because then she would not have to be responsible for them. It was a welcome relief.
After a while Robert came up to them; he had a bunch of children with him, including those of Edna and Adèle. The two women got up, shook off the sand, and Edna tossed the rug and pillows back into the bath-house. Adèle asked Robert to accompany her back to the house; she was feeling stiff from sitting on the ground.
Character Descriptions and Paper Topics:
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1995.