The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

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Chapter 11

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 11 from Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening.

The Awakening | Chapter 11 | Summary



When her husband returns from the beach, Edna is still in the hammock. She declines to come in, even when he insists ("come on"), entreats ("Edna, dear, are you not coming in soon?"), and finally commands ("I can't permit you to stay out there all night. You must come in the house instantly."). She tells him to go to bed without her as she is staying outside.

Mr. Pontellier is perplexed. He drinks a glass of wine, brings another to Edna (but she refuses it), smokes two cigars, drinks another glass of wine, and smokes more cigars. Just before dawn Edna finally decides to go inside to get some sleep. Mr. Pontellier says he will come in when he's done smoking his cigar.


Fresh from her triumph of swimming alone in the sea, Edna decides she does not want to go inside her cottage. She chooses to stay outside even when her husband returns and tries, with increasing aggressiveness, to convince her to come in. Perhaps she perceives that convention prefers a woman inside the home, near the children or waiting patiently for her husband's return. Perhaps she intuits that her husband wants sex and she doesn't care to give it to him: "With a writhing motion she settled herself more securely in the hammock. She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn and resistant." She refuses all of her husband's requests to go inside, finally telling him bluntly, "I don't wish to go in, and I don't intend to. Don't speak to me like that again; I shall not answer you."

As Edna's awakening progresses, she has translated emotions into thoughts, then to words, and finally, on this night of swimming and defiance, to actions. Needless to say, her husband is not pleased, and he frustrates her act of defiance by outlasting her.

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