What is Adele's purpose in the novel, and how does she reveal Edna's "awakening?"

1 Answer | Add Yours

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Adele Ratignolle is Edna Pontellier's good friend and a fellow mother on summer vacation at Grande Isle. Her purpose in the novel is to serve as a foil to Edna so that the reader may see how very different Edna is from the other Creole women in her society. While both Edna and Adele are both married and have children, Edna recognizes very early in the novel that Adele is the perfect example of the Creole concept of "mother-woman" while she, not being Creole by nature, just can't give up her "self" to her children. Adele is the ideal woman who lives for her children and seems to have an ideal marriage to a man who completes her, but Edna finds those kinds of relationships boring, and over the course of the novel awakens to the fact that she wants more from her life. She wants to live for herself first, rather than last. She wants to be an artist. She wants freedom from her marriage. She wants relief from the responsibilities of parenting. Adele is very concerned about the choices that Edna is making and worries about the implications of her actions. At the end of the novel she even warns Edna to "think of the children." She doesn't want Edna to do something that is irrevocable in terms of her family. Unfortunately, it almost seems that those words are Edna's final undoing. She realizes she will never be able to be free from her marriage and children in any meaningful way, so she decides to free herself the only way she knows how: by committing suicide. She takes the ultimate control of her life by choosing death over a life that she knows will make her miserable.


We’ve answered 317,889 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question