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The Awakening | Chapter 33 | Summary

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Summary

Madame Ratignolle, who was unable to come to Edna's party because of her pregnancy, visits Edna in the pigeon house. She advises Edna to be careful living alone, and notes that some people are beginning to talk about the fact that Alcée Arobin has been seen with Edna. Later Edna visits Mademoiselle Reisz's apartment, letting herself in when she finds that the pianist is not at home. While she waits, Robert arrives. He is surprised to see her, and she is just as surprised to see him. Edna is disconcerted that he has been in town but has not yet come to see her, and he excuses the delay by saying that he has started a new job at a firm in the city. Edna asks him why he never wrote to her, as he promised, and he awkwardly makes an excuse. Then they decide to leave Mademoiselle Reisz's apartment. Robert accompanies her home, and she invites him to stay for dinner. He agrees, somewhat reluctantly.

Analysis

The unexpected meeting with Robert reveals that he and Edna are at very different places in terms of how willing they are to let go of societal conventions. The setting of the meeting is important: Mademoiselle Reisz is a person whom Edna has confided in, who understands Edna's desire to be her true self, and who represents an extreme form of individuality. In this setting Edna shows her readiness to be more frank with Robert than propriety allows. Yet Robert is not as willing to dispense with propriety. He is awkward. He makes excuses. He consents to accompany Edna to her home, but not with enthusiasm.

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