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The Awakening | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Late on a summer Sunday

    Léonce Pontellier criticizes Edna's mothering; she is upset.

    Chapter 3
  • August 28, weeks later

    Edna is deeply moved by Mademoiselle Reisz's music.

    Chapter 9
  • Days later

    Robert Lebrun leaves for Mexico.

    Chapter 15
  • Weeks later

    The Pontelliers resume their lives in New Orleans.

    Chapter 17
  • Several weeks later

    While Mr. Pontellier is away, Edna decides to move to her own house.

    Chapter 26
  • Short time later

    Edna and Alcée Arobin begin a sexual affair.

    Chapter 27
  • Edna's 29th birthday

    Edna gives a dinner party; she and Alcée have sex afterward.

    Chapter 31
  • Short time later

    After Robert returns from Mexico, he and Edna admit they are in love.

    Chapter 36
  • Later that night

    Edna returns to her house to find a goodbye note from Robert.

    Chapter 38
  • The next day

    Edna walks into the sea and swims too far out to return.

    Chapter 39

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 The novel opens as Léonce Pontellier, a guest at Mrs. Lebrun's cottages on Grand Isle, attempts to read his newspaper in... Read More
Chapter 2 On the cottage porch Robert begins to smoke a cigarette as Edna fans herself, and the two chatter "incessantly." They ar... Read More
Chapter 3 Léonce Pontellier returns quite late from his evening at Klein's hotel, and although Edna is half asleep he gossips and ... Read More
Chapter 4 The narrator notes Mr. Pontellier often is critical of Edna's parenting; he can't pinpoint what is wrong but determines ... Read More
Chapter 5 Madame Ratignolle, Edna, and Robert form a "congenial group" on the porch, although Edna and Robert seem to share someth... Read More
Chapter 6 Edna is conflicted about her response to Robert's invitation to go to the beach. She senses a light is "beginning to daw... Read More
Chapter 7 Up to this point Edna has been a very reserved person, but now she begins to feel more comfortable sharing her private t... Read More
Chapter 8 Madame Ratignolle walks back to her cottage with Robert as Edna stays at the beach; she asks Robert to "let Mrs. Pontell... Read More
Chapter 9 On a Saturday evening a few weeks later, Madame Lebrun's home is full of families and festivity. Children stay up late, ... Read More
Chapter 10 As the party breaks up, Robert proposes they all go for a swim, and so they walk down to the beach. They can hear music ... Read More
Chapter 11 When her husband returns from the beach, Edna is still in the hammock. She declines to come in, even when he insists ("c... Read More
Chapter 12 After a few hours of restless sleep Edna wakes. In the early morning Edna sends someone to tell Robert she is planning t... Read More
Chapter 13 Edna feels lightheaded during the church service and goes outside to get some fresh air. Robert follows her, concerned, ... Read More
Chapter 14 Edna's youngest boy, Etienne, is still awake when she gets back, having refused to go to bed. When Edna receives him fro... Read More
Chapter 15 One evening Edna comes in late to dinner, only to be informed that Robert is going to Mexico—and leaving tonight. She is... Read More
Chapter 16 One morning as Edna leaves for the beach to swim, Mademoiselle Reisz approaches and asks her if she misses Robert. Edna ... Read More
Chapter 17 Back in New Orleans, the wealthy Pontelliers live in a luxurious home filled with beautiful possessions, attended by ser... Read More
Chapter 18 The next morning Mr. Pontellier invites Edna to come look at new fixtures for the house, but she refuses. He thinks she ... Read More
Chapter 19 Edna feels silly about breaking the vase and seems to move past the anger of that evening. She doesn't abandon her awake... Read More
Chapter 20 On one of Edna's unhappy days she attempts to seek out Mademoiselle Reisz. At first unable to find the pianist's address... Read More
Chapter 21 When Edna arrives at Mademoiselle Reisz's shabby apartment, the pianist laughs, having thought that Edna had forgotten a... Read More
Chapter 22 One morning on his way to town, Mr. Pontellier stops and consults Doctor Mandelet about Edna's "odd" behavior. He is wor... Read More
Chapter 23 Edna's father, the Colonel, is visiting, and this is a welcome distraction for her. Edna asks him to sit for a sketch, a... Read More
Chapter 24 Tensions rise between Edna and her father because she refuses to attend her sister's wedding. Eventually the Colonel hea... Read More
Chapter 25 Edna continues to pursue her art and to have good and bad days. One day she goes to the races with Alcée Arobin and Mrs.... Read More
Chapter 26 Alcée writes Edna a letter of apology, and she replies "she would be glad to have him look in upon her at work whenever ... Read More
Chapter 27 Edna is in such a good mood about Robert's return that Alcée notices and wonders about the cause of her happiness. She c... Read More
Chapter 28 Edna is prey to conflicting emotions after Alcée leaves. She feels irresponsible, shocked, and sad that the physical fee... Read More
Chapter 29 Edna sets in motion her plan to move to the little house, and Alcée finds her on a stepladder, unhooking a picture from ... Read More
Chapter 30 Edna's grand dinner ends up being a cozy dinner with only nine guests, including Mrs. Highcamp, Alcée Arobin, Mademoisel... Read More
Chapter 31 Alcée, who has stayed behind as the other guests leave, asks her "What next?" She describes what she still must do befor... Read More
Chapter 32 Mr. Pontellier finds out his wife is moving to the pigeon house, and he does not approve. He thinks people might get the... Read More
Chapter 33 Madame Ratignolle, who was unable to come to Edna's party because of her pregnancy, visits Edna in the pigeon house. She... Read More
Chapter 34 At dinner Robert and Edna share their news, but not in terribly personal terms. Alcée Arobin stops by to give Edna a mes... Read More
Chapter 35 In the morning Edna thinks about how to overcome the awkwardness she felt with Robert and allow for the "excessive joy" ... Read More
Chapter 36 Edna is at a local garden cafe having a quiet meal when Robert unexpectedly enters the garden gate. They are both surpri... Read More
Chapter 37 Madame Ratignolle is in the midst of labor when Edna gets to her house. "Between agonizing moments," Edna talks with Mad... Read More
Chapter 38 Doctor Mandelet, who had attended the birth, walks Edna home, and tells her that she should not have been at the birth; ... Read More
Chapter 39 The next day Victor is doing some repair work on a house on Grand Isle as he and Mariequita flirt and gossip. They are s... Read More
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