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Free Study Guide-The Awakening by Kate Chopin-Free Online Booknotes
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Chapters XXII-XXV


One morning Mr. Pontellier goes to see his friend, a retired family physician, Doctor Mandelet. The good doctor "bore a reputation for wisdom rather than skill," and he still attends a select number of the older families. He is old, portly, graying and at first impatient at being disturbed, but then happy to see his old friend, Mr. Pontellier. Léonce wants to talk about Edna: she is not really unwell, but she is not herself, either. It is hard to explain. Léonce admits that he is becoming exasperated because Edna's attitude towards everything has changed.

The doctor asks if Léonce has been unkind to Edna. Léonce scoffs. The doctor asks if Edna has been keeping company with intellectual ladies. No, she has been seeing no one. The doctor raises the question of hereditary illnesses, but Léonce claims that her family is of "sound old Presbyterian Kentucky stock." The doctor suggests that Edna's attendance at her sister's wedding is a good idea. But Léonce says that Edna refuses to go, and she describes weddings as "lamentable."

Doctor Mandelet suggests that sensitive women like Edna sometimes have moods, and since neither he nor Mr. Pontellier are psychologists, they had better let her work out her own solution, or they may make things worse. He suggests that Léonce just leave her alone. The doctor also says that he will come by the house and have a talk with her. Léonce is grateful.

Léonce also mentions that he is going to New York on an important business trip. The doctor tells him not to take Edna along unless she wants to go. Her recovery may take months, or longer. After Léonce leaves, Doctor Mandelet ponders the question of whether there is a man involved, but he is too aware of Creole sensibilities to mention that.

Edna's father comes to visit, and although they are not close, he distracts her for a while. Mr. Pontellier helps Edna's father to choose wedding gifts and clothes. Her father was a Confederate colonel and still looks very distinguished. Together, he and Edna attract much attention. She begins to make a sketch of him, but he becomes annoyed by the children's interest in his bizarre sitting pose. She takes him to the Ratignolles' soirée, and Adèle flatters him. This amazes Edna, who does not know how to flirt and dislikes the interested eyes of strangers. Mr. Pontellier does not accompany Edna and her father on these social calls and goes to his club instead. Adèle disapproves of his club and frankly tells Edna that she thinks the Pontelliers would be more "united" if he stayed home more often. Edna says that they would have little to say to each other if he did.

Edna does not have much to say to her father, either. But he amuses her, and so she waits on him and lets no one else do so. Léonce thinks this is filial attachment. Meanwhile, her father amuses himself by concocting strong drinks and consuming them.

Doctor Mandelet comes to dinner one night, and he thinks Edna is not at all "morbid." Edna and her father have been to the races and are full of stories. The doctor tries to keep up with the conversation, but has not paid attention to horseraces in years. The colonel would rather talk about the characters who were at the races that afternoon, including Alcée Arobin. Léonce disapproves of races, and there is a short argument, but the food and wine are excellent, and balance is restored.

Each then tells a story of bygone days, and Edna chooses to tell of a pair of illicit lovers who get lost in the Baratarian Islands together in a small boat and are never seen again. She claims that Madame Antoine told her the story, but for all the vivid detail, it is a total fabrication. Afterwards, as Doctor Mandelet is walking home through the cold night, he feels old and wishes he had never gone to the Pontelliers, and he hopes that Alcée Arobin is not the man with whom Edna is evidently in love.

Edna and her father have a fight over Edna's refusal to go to her sister's wedding: the colonel cannot believe Edna would be so rude as to miss her sister's big day. Following the doctor's advice, Léonce stays out of the argument. By the time her father leaves, Edna is glad to see him go, with his opinions and his alcohol. Léonce assures him that he will go to the sister's wedding himself, on his way to New York, to try to make up for Edna's absence. The colonel thinks Léonce is too easy on Edna and should put his foot down. Léonce thinks it is not worth mentioning that the colonel's wife was probably "kicked" into an early grave.

Edna is attentive to Léonce, once his departure time nears, and even cries when he goes away. Maybe she will even join him later. Old Madame Pontellier comes to get the boys, so that they can spend some time in the country, where their father grew up. Once Edna is alone, she breathes a sigh of relief. She putters in the garden, plays with the dog, and orders the cook to reduce the provisions by half and not to bother her about the arrangements. When Edna dines alone, she is comfortable and thinks sentimentally about her husband and children. After dinner she reads Emerson in the library and begins to think that she should read more. She bathes and then sleeps wonderfully.

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