The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

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The Awakening | Chapter 18 | Summary

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Summary

The next morning Mr. Pontellier invites Edna to come look at new fixtures for the house, but she refuses. He thinks she looks pale and is unusually quiet. After he leaves she picks a few flowers and gazes at the street, feeling as if she is in an alien world. She chooses a few of her old sketches and takes them out of the house. As she walks along heading to Madame Ratignolle's house, she thinks of Robert. Her feelings for him have not diminished.

At Madame Ratignolle's Edna shows her friend her sketches and talks about studying art again. Edna stays for dinner with Madame Ratignolle and her husband. Afterward Edna goes home, feeling a little depressed by the Ratignolles' "domestic harmony," which admits none of "life's delirium."

Analysis

Edna continues to avoid her domestic and family responsibilities, to the frustration of her husband. Instead of spending her energy on picking out fixtures for the home, she prefers to think about her art. The changes she has been undergoing make her see the world so differently; it seems completely unfamiliar and alien.

Her dinner with the Ratignolles highlights once again the difference between Edna and Madame Ratignolle and between the Pontellier and Ratignolle marriages. The Ratignolles have a harmonious but completely conventional marriage. Edna has begun to find the idea of marriage itself distasteful and as a result finds the domestic harmony of the Ratignolles unpleasant.

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