Course Hero Logo

The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Awakening Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Feb. 2017. Web. 7 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, February 7). The Awakening Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "The Awakening Study Guide." February 7, 2017. Accessed June 7, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Awakening Study Guide," February 7, 2017, accessed June 7, 2023,

Chapter 38

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 38 from Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening.

The Awakening | Chapter 38 | Summary



Doctor Mandelet, who had attended the birth, walks Edna home, and tells her that she should not have been at the birth; she has clearly reacted negatively to the event. She dismisses his concern. He then asks after her husband and their plans together, and she admits to him that she is not interested in being told what to do, not by a husband or even her own children. The doctor asks her to confide in him, saying it is safe to do so. But Edna says she doesn't feel like confiding in anyone.

When she gets to her house she sits for a moment on her porch, anticipating finding Robert within and caressing him. But when she goes inside he is not there. He has left a note: "I love you. Good-by—because I love you." Feeling lightheaded, Edna stretches out on the sofa and stays there until morning, unable to sleep.


Although Edna's explanation of her troubles is confusing and scattered, Doctor Mandelet seems to understand it perfectly when he echoes Edna's unvoiced "revolt" against the "ways of Nature" (Chapter 37). On their walk he notes that the illusions of youth seem like "a provision of Nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race." He is wise enough to know that not all women are cut out to be good mothers, but Nature doesn't care about whether a mother is motherly or not; it wants children. Framed this way, Edna's struggle becomes not just against society and its rules but against Nature itself, which has conspired against her. She has children and has an emotional attachment to them, but she also resents them and wishes to be free of familial burdens. Her "inward life" never included children; they were part of the "outward existence which conforms."

Robert is Edna's one bright hope as she considers this final, terrible conflict between her inner and outer selves. She focuses on the pleasure and excitement of finding him waiting for her, and what will follow. His note is a crushing blow.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Awakening? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!