The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

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The Awakening | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

Tensions rise between Edna and her father because she refuses to attend her sister's wedding. Eventually the Colonel heads home, and Edna is glad to see him go. The Colonel tells Mr. Pontellier that he should take a firmer hand with Edna: "Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to manage a wife." But Mr. Pontellier is skeptical of this advice. Some time later Mr. Pontellier prepares to leave on a business trip, and his mother, Old Madame Pontellier, takes the children to the country for a visit. Edna experiences a feeling of peace after all these various people have left and she is alone. In fact everything seems much more interesting without others at the house. She picks flowers, plays with the dog, reads, and goes to sleep.

Analysis

Edna's refusal to attend her sister's wedding shows how much she now dislikes even the idea of marriage. The Colonel's anger and his chastisement of Léonce Pontellier for treating Edna permissively underscore Edna's negative perception of marriage. The Colonel's domineering attitude represents what Edna finds so distasteful in marital relationships.

Edna's reaction to her husband and children's absence is very different from her reaction to Robert's absence. When Robert went to Mexico, Edna felt her sensory perceptions dull. Now with her family gone, her sensory perceptions are more vibrant. Even the most mundane of tasks, such as playing with the dog, become interesting. She also relishes time to read, choosing a book of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, famous for his opinions on self-reliance and individuality.

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