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Free Study Guide-The Awakening by Kate Chopin-Free Online Booknotes
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Chapters XXXIII-XXXIX

Summary

Sometimes Mademoiselle Reisz is not home when Edna goes to see her, but Edna knows where the key is, and so she can go in and relax while she waits. Mademoiselle Reisz's place is a refuge and a place where she can talk about Robert.

Madame Ratignolle comes to visit Edna. It is late in her pregnancy, but she is also worried about Edna and curious to see the new house and to discuss the dinner she missed. She wants to warn Edna about Alcée Arobin and suggests that Edna may want to have someone come to live with her, rather than to remain alone in the house. The two women exchange pleasantries, and Adèle departs. But first, she asks Edna to come and help her when she goes into labor. Edna agrees. Two women from the dinner party also stop by, but Edna is so tired of it all that she has gone to Mademoiselle Reisz's to escape.

She sits in the shabby little room overlooking the river. A laundress comes in and goes out. Edna tries playing the piano. Then there is a knock at the door, and when Edna says "come in," it is Robert who enters. They are both shocked. They talk nervously for a while. It turns out that Robert has been back for two days, and Edna is hurt that he has not yet come see her. He assures her he has been busy with work. She thinks that he came back for work reasons, and not for her. He looks the same to her, and when their eyes meet silently, she recognizes that same glance that awakened her soul before. But this is not how she imagined their reunion.

Robert wonders why Edna has stayed behind, instead of going away with Léonce or her children. He assumes that she will not be at Grand Isle the next summer, and he asks her about Mademoiselle Reisz, who has written to him often of Edna.

She reminds him that he promised to write. He wonders how she could be interested in his letters. She accuses him of making excuses, and then she leaves. Mademoiselle Reisz is not likely to be back soon. Robert offers to walk Edna home. They pass Edna's Esplanade house, and she remarks that she is glad that he never knew her in her life there. But when they go into her little house around the corner, she feels her dreams coming true.


She invites him to dine. He makes weak excuses. He sees her sad face and admits that he wants to stay. She feels he is finally being himself, and she happily goes off to order a nice dinner. When she gets back, Robert has found a picture of Alcée Arobin on her disordered table. She explains that it is there because she was painting a portrait of him and used the photograph as her model. There is some tension as Robert questions her about her friendship with Alcée Arobin, but Edna prefers to talk about Robert anyway.

He says he has been seeing "the white beach of Grand Isle; the quiet, grassy street of the Chênière; the old fort at Grande Terre." He adds that he has been "working like a machine and feeling like a lost soul." When he asks her what she has been doing, she responds with the same exact words. He calls her cruel and closes his eyes, and they sit until dinner is called.

The house is small, and in the dining room, Edna and Robert become formal with each other again. He tells of Mexico, and later over coffee Edna notices that he has a new embroidered tobacco pouch, and she asks who made it for him. He says that a Vera Cruz girl made it for him, and Edna remarks that the woman must have been pretty. She wants to know what the woman was like, and Robert says that she was not important. The more Edna questions him on this matter, the more evasive he becomes.

Arobin comes in. He asks Robert how Mexico treated him and remarks that those Vera Cruz girls are stunning. Edna asks if they embroidered things for him, and Alcée says that he did not make as strong an impression on them as they made on him. Edna says Robert was more fortunate, and Alcée confirms that Robert always is. Robert says he must go and bids goodnight to Alcée and Edna. After Robert goes, Alcée remarks that he did not know that Edna knew Robert.

Alcée does not want his photograph back when Edna offers it, and she refuses to go along to a card party they were supposed to attend. He tries to get Edna to do something or to go somewhere with him, but she wants to be left alone. He says he lives only when he is near her, and she questions him about that. After he leaves, Edna sits in a stupor. She goes over every minute of the time she spent with Robert and is jealous of the nameless Mexican woman. She wonders if Robert will come back because he never said he would. He somehow seemed nearer to her when he was in Mexico.

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