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The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

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Chapter 15

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 15 from Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening.

The Awakening | Chapter 15 | Summary



One evening Edna comes in late to dinner, only to be informed that Robert is going to Mexico—and leaving tonight. She is perplexed by the fact that he has not mentioned this to her, but he exclaims that he's always said he was going to Mexico. Amid the chaos of people talking and joking, Robert's attempts to explain himself, and everyone's loud opinions on Mexico, Edna finishes her dinner and goes back to her room. She straightens her room, changes clothes, and puts her children to bed. Madame Ratignolle checks on her, and the two agree that the suddenness of Robert's decision to leave was inconsiderate. After Madame Ratignolle leaves, Robert pays her a visit. He doesn't want her to be in an "ill humor" with him, but she defends her bad mood, saying his action is "unfriendly, even unkind." She asks him to write to her, and he agrees, but his aloof manner continues to confuse her. After he leaves she is overwhelmed by emotion and realizes she is somewhat infatuated with him.


As he has done before, Robert follows a period of closeness to Edna with an attempt to distance himself. This time he will take himself all the way to Mexico, without even paying Edna the courtesy of telling her before he tells everyone else. He acts as if she's just another acquaintance. When Edna objects by saying he is being "unkind," he awkwardly says good-bye with empty promises of writing to her. Once again, when Edna seems ready to push against convention Robert can't quite bring himself to reciprocate. In this he behaves much as Mr. Pontellier has, leaving Edna when she becomes too much for him to handle.

Edna's inner experience as all this is happening is similar to what she has done before as well. She has a gut reaction to the news that he is going away, but it only seems to confuse her. She doesn't seem to understand what, to readers, is all too clear: she's in love with Robert and sad to see him go. In her confusion she putters around her room and goes through the motions of motherhood—her actions do not yet reflect her inner state. Finally she lets her inner state affect her behavior as she speaks to Robert in terms that acknowledge their special friendship, then cries over his leaving. At the end of this chapter, she comes to the realization that her feelings for him are like those of love or infatuation, not just friendship.

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