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THE AWAKENING by Kate ChopinThe Awakeningopens in the late 1800s in Grand Isle, a summer holiday resort popularwith the wealthy inhabitants of nearby New Orleans. Edna Pontellier is vacationing with herhusband, Léonce, and their two sons at the cottages of Madame Lebrun, which house affluentCreoles from the French Quarter. Léonce is kind and loving but preoccupied with his work. Hisfrequent business-related absences mar his domestic life with Edna. Consequently, Edna spendsmost of her time with her friend Adèle Ratignolle, a married Creole who epitomizes womanlyelegance and charm. Through her relationship with Adèle, Edna learns a great deal aboutfreedom of expression. Because Creole women were expected and assumed to be chaste, theycould behave in a forthright and unreserved manner. Exposure to such openness liberates Ednafrom her previously prudish behavior and repressed emotions and desires.Edna’s relationship with Adèle begins Edna’s process of “awakening” and self-discovery,which constitutes the focus of the book. The process accelerates as Edna comes to know RobertLebrun, the elder, single son of Madame Lebrun. Robert is known among the Grand Islevacationers as a man who chooses one woman each year—often a married woman—to whom hethen plays “attendant” all summer long. This summer, he devotes himself to Edna, and the twospend their days together lounging and talking by the shore. Adèle Ratignolle often accompaniesthem.At first, the relationship between Robert and Edna is innocent. They mostly bathe in thesea or engage in idle talk. As the summer progresses, however, Edna and Robert grow closer, andRobert’s affections and attention inspire in Edna several internal revelations. She feels more alivethan ever before, and she starts to paint again as she did in her youth. She also learns to swim andbecomes aware of her independence and sexuality. Edna and Robert never openly discuss theirlove for one another, but the time they spend alone together kindles memories in Edna of thedreams and desires of her youth. She becomes inexplicably depressed at night with her husbandand profoundly joyful during her moments of freedom, whether alone or with Robert.Recognizing how intense the relationship between him and Edna has become, Robert honorablyremoves himself from Grand Isle to avoid consummating his forbidden love. Edna returns toNew Orleans a changed woman.Back in New Orleans, Edna actively pursues her painting and ignores all of her socialresponsibilities. Worried about the changing attitude and increasing disobedience of his wife,Léonce seeks the guidance of the family physician, Doctor Mandelet. A wise and enlightenedman, Doctor Mandelet suspects that Edna’s transformation is the result of an affair, but he hideshis suspicions from Léonce. Instead, Doctor Mandelet suggests that Léonce let Edna’s defiancerun its course, since attempts to control her would only fuel her rebellion. Léonce heeds thedoctor’s advice, allowing Edna to remain home alone while he is away on business. With her