In Edna Pontellier's America, female sexuality was an utterly taboo subject. For women, sex was supposed to be a means to one specific end: making babies within the context of marriage. Part of the reason Edna's behavior seemed so scandalous at the time was that her sexuality neither began nor ended with her husband as the times dictated it ought; she discovered it with other men after she was already married. Further, Edna advances not only in knowledge of her sexuality but also in awareness of her spirituality: Upon moving into the pigeon house, she has a sense "of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual." This increase in her spiritual stock occurs after she has begun her affair with Arobin, a point at which a standard heroine of the times should have felt irredeemably shamed and certainly less spiritually advanced. Edna's sexual awakening is doubtless a reflection of the sexuality glorified in Walt Whitman's
This is the end of the preview.
access the rest of the document.