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The Awakening Summary How It All Goes DownWhen the book opens, Edna Pontellier is an obedient wife and mother vacationing at Grand Islewith her family. While there, however, Edna become close to a young man named Robert Lebrun. Before they act on their mutual romantic interest in each other, Robert leaves for Mexico. Edna is lonely without his companionship, but shortly after her return to New Orleans(where she usually lives with her family), she picks up the male equivalent of a mistress. Although she does not love Alcee Arobin, he awakens various sexual passions within her.Concurrent to Edna’s sexual awakening is her determination for independence. Instead of spending her days concerned with household matters, Edna pursues her interest in painting. Rather than depending financially on her husband, Edna moves into a house of her own. By the time Robert returns, professing his love for Edna and his desire to someday marry her, Edna can no longer handle societal strictures – particularly marriage. Without finishing the conversation about their future, Robert leaves Edna. Heartbroken, she returns to Grand Isle. Once there, she swims far out to sea and presumably drowns.The Awakening Chapter 1 SummaryThe story begins with a green and yellow parrot on a porch. The parrot shouts at Edna’s husband, Leonce (generally referred to as "Mr. Pontellier"), who is also on the porch. The parrot says, "Get out! Get out! Damn it!" (That’s the English translation. The parrot is shouting in French.)We learn that the parrot belongs to a Madame Lebrun, and thus has the right to make as much noise as it wants.Mr. Pontellier marches off to read his newspaper in peace. He decides to read in his own cottage and settles down on the front porch in a rocking chair.We learn that the paper is a day old, and that Mr. Pontellier was in New Orleans yesterday.Mr. Pontellier is forty-years-old and average-looking.Mr. Pontellier watches several people play croquet, including his two sons, ages four and five.The children’s nanny (described as a "quadroon nurse") follows them around.Mr. Pontellier lights a cigar. He watches a pink and white sunshade (an umbrella that blocks out sun, not rain) approach from the beach.Edna (a.k.a. Mrs. Pontellier) and a handsome young man named Robert Lebrun are underneath the sunshade.
Edna and Robert reach the cottage and sit down on the front steps near Mr. Pontellier. Mr. Pontellier says they are burnt beyond recognition – a way of commenting on their burns while at the same time expressing disapproval.Edna silently holds up her hands, examining them for sunburn, then holds them out submissively to Mr. Pontellier so he can place her wedding rings back on them. (She had apparently given them to him earlier for safekeeping.)Robert and Edna begin to giggle. They try telling Mr. Pontellier about their funny adventure on the beach, but it’s one of those "you had to be there" stories.