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The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

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Chapter 9

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 9 from Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening.

The Awakening | Chapter 9 | Summary



On a Saturday evening a few weeks later, Madame Lebrun's home is full of families and festivity. Children stay up late, and people enjoy a loosely organized program of various entertainments: music, dancing, and "a recitation or two." Edna dances with her husband, with Monsieur Ratignolle, and with Robert. Afterward she goes out on the porch to look at the sea.

Robert convinces the "disagreeable" and "homely" Mademoiselle Reisz to play piano. Everyone settles in to listen, and Edna muses that music often calls to her mind various images, such as a man standing near the sea or a woman stroking a cat. But as Mademoiselle Reisz plays on this occasion, no images come to Edna's mind. Instead she is overcome by passionate emotions and weeps.


This chapter uses juxtaposition—contrasting images set side by side—to highlight once again the difference between socially acceptable behavior and behavior that is an expression of the true self. The various musical entertainments of the Farival twins, the recitations, the dancing, and even Madame Ratignolle's music are conventional. They are performed for the enjoyment of others.

These images are contrasted with the description of Mademoiselle Reisz's music. Mademoiselle Reisz has little desire to please the audience, entering the party with an "awkward" bow rather than a graceful one. Yet her music is an expression of her true self. Edna's response to the expression of real art—not the artifice of the previous musicians—is an intense flood of emotion. It is another moment of awakening for her.

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