Study Guide

The Awakening

by Kate Chopin

The Awakening Analysis

Form and Content (Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

The Awakening deals with the sexual awakening of a woman who has led the conventional life of an upper-middle-class wife and mother until the age of twenty-eight, then finds herself feeling so frustrated and suffocated that she is willing to defy the conventions of Louisiana Creole society to gain spiritual independence. She gradually abandons housekeeping, social visits, entertaining at home, and all the duties of a woman of her station. Defiantly, she begins to lead a bohemian lifestyle and to exercise freedom of choice in matters of sex.

The novel is divided into thirty-nine short chapters, each consisting of a single significant scene. Most of the story is told through the viewpoint of Edna Pontellier, an exceptionally sensitive and observant woman who can see into the characters of other people. The scenes not only present the various characters’ personalities but also paint a picture of homes, furnishings, clothing, servants, entertainment, and other aspects of life in the late nineteenth century.

The first scenes take place at a summer resort on Grand Isle near New Orleans. City dwellers come to escape the city heat, but even on the island the subtropical heat and humidity are oppressive. The women and children remain on Grand Isle throughout the summer, while most of the men come over only on weekends and return to the city to conduct business.

A few younger men have no pressing business matters to which to attend. These bachelors amuse themselves by flirting blatantly with the married women. This behavior is tolerated in Creole society because the code of sexual morality is so strict that it is taken for granted that the relationships will remain platonic. Edna Pontellier, who is the most attractive woman on the island, is courted by the handsome young Robert Lebrun with the benign approval of Edna’s husband. A combination of factors, however, turns their affair from a game into something more complex and potentially disastrous.

Once Edna falls in love with Robert, she experiences an adverse reaction to her husband. She realizes that she has never truly loved him and can barely stand to continue having intimate marital relations with him. Edna’s character transformation is described in detail; it is also dramatized through Edna’s overt behavior.

In one nighttime scene, Leonce keeps calling to his wife to come to bed. It was impossible for authors in Kate Chopin’s day to discuss sex in explicit terms; however, Edna’s repeated refusals to her husband’s entreaties make it clear what is happening. She knows that he wants to have sexual intercourse and, for the first time in their marriage, she is refusing to allow herself to be used.

Robert is in love with Edna but not so deeply that he is willing to make any extraordinary sacrifices. Instead, he goes to Mexico to pursue a lucrative business opportunity. Robert steadfastly avoids communicating with her by mail because he realizes that such correspondence would exceed the bounds of social propriety.

Edna accepts the advances of another young man, Alcee Arobin, although she senses that he is only intoxicated by her beauty and does not understand her as a fellow human being. Here again, the author is unable to describe how far their relationship goes, but she provides strong suggestions that Edna and Alcee become illicit lovers.

By this time, Edna finds her husband so repulsive that she insists on moving out of their home and setting up her own household, providing her with better opportunities to see Arobin. She is becoming a successful artist, and her sketches and paintings are bringing in enough money to allow her to declare her independence.

When Robert returns, Edna finds that she is even more in love with him and that Arobin means little more to her than her own husband. Robert still loves her but lacks her courage and contempt for public opinion. At the last moment, when she is prepared to run away with him, she finds a note stating that he cannot bring himself to violate her marital bonds and to disgrace himself in Creole society. Edna’s disappointing experiences with her husband, Arobin, and Lebrun have plunged her into a state of depression. Feeling that life is no longer worth living, she takes off all of her clothes and swims out into the ocean until she becomes exhausted and drowns.

The Awakening Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Grand Isle

*Grand Isle. Island resort in the Gulf of Mexico about fifty miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana, where Léonce Pontellier’s family stays in a summer cottage. Léonce goes to his office in Carondelet Street in the financial quarter of New Orleans during the week, returning to the island on weekends.

The Pontelliers do not have a happy marriage. Like most characters in the novel, Léonce is a Creole descendant of New Orleans’s original French and Spanish settlers, and he is quite content with his life. His wife, Edna, however, was raised in a Presbyterian home in Kentucky, and is restless under the restrictions of Louisiana’s patriarchal Roman Catholic society. At Grand Isle, she displays the first signs of independence and begins to become her own person—to “awaken.” She befriends Mademoiselle Reisz, whose creativity she admires, and carries on a summer flirtation with Robert Lebrun, a son of the property owner. She also spends time at the beach with Robert and her children, learns to swim, and even swims out far from the shore alone. Her resistance to Léonce has begun; she is, Kate Chopin writes, “like one who awakens gradually out of a dream.” Grand Isle thus represents her first feelings of freedom.

At the end of the novel, Edna returns to Grand Isle in the off season and, feeling no further possibilities in her life, removes all her clothes, swims far out into the sea, and drowns.

*Chenière Caminada

*Chenière Caminada. Island between Grand Isle and the Louisiana coast to which Edna, Robert, and others go by boat to attend mass on Sunday. After falling asleep during the service, Edna awakens and asks how many years she has slept. Chenière Caminada is one of many islands in this area that represent choices in life. Edna talks of going with Robert to look for pirate gold at Grand Terre, for example, an island adjacent to Grand Isle.

*New Orleans

*New Orleans. Colorful and culturally diverse Gulf port city, at the mouth of the great Mississippi River, where the Pontelliers own a charming home on Esplanade Street in the city’s most fashionable neighborhood. Pontellier is proud of his house, for he values all his possessions highly—including his wife, Edna. However, their life on Esplanade Street feels increasingly restrictive to Edna after the family’s summer on Grand Isle. Regarding her home as a prison, she starts to break free, first by failing to be “at home” when other women call, and then by beginning an affair with the experienced playboy Alcée Arobin. New Orleans is thus the hub of the repressive Creole society Edna seeks to flee.

Pigeon House

Pigeon House. Smaller house into which Edna moves after failing to find freedom in her own home, even when her husband and children are away. Edna is happy in her new surroundings: “Every step which she took toward relieving herself from obligations added to her strength and expansion as an individual.” The house thus represents her physical removal from conventional and repressive Creole society.

Garden restaurant

Garden restaurant. Suburban restaurant in which Edna runs into Robert, and their affair seems about to begin. However, Robert is a product of the same Catholic and patriarchal Creole society that produced Léonce and would not think of taking another man’s property—unless to make her his own property. Edna feels trapped by every relationship; only when she is away from the city—as when she is on Grand Isle or in this garden restaurant—does she begin to feel her true nature.

Edna’s childhood home

Edna’s childhood home. House in Kentucky bluegrass country in which Edna grew up and about which she often thinks. Her last thoughts in her life return there, to the site of her early romances and happiness. It is not her childhood family that matters to her, for she later argues with her father and refuses to go to her sister’s wedding. Rather, the Kentucky home and her Presbyterian upbringing signify Edna’s differences from both her husband and most of the other Creoles in New Orleans. “She is not one of us; she is not like us,” the Creole woman Madame Lebrun warns her son—meaning, she is not from New Orleans Creole society.

The Awakening Context (Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening has become one of the classics of feminist literature because of its theme of sexual awakening and a woman’s right to freedom of choice in matters of love. Feminists believe that the sexual repression of women, which is still common throughout the world, is a necessary precondition of the political repression and economic exploitation of women that are also still found on every continent of the globe. Feminists believe that until women have control of their own bodies, they cannot hope to have control of their own lives.

Chopin was ahead of her time. Her novel The Awakening met with critical abuse and public denunciation. A reviewer writing for the magazine Public Opinion in 1899 stated that he was “well satisfied” with Edna’s suicide because she deserved to die for her immoral behavior. Chopin never wrote another novel and gradually gave up writing altogether. During the early part of the twentieth century, she had become virtually forgotten. Then the very qualities that had caused her to be condemned as an evil influence brought her to the attention of a few critics who saw that Chopin had created a minor masterpiece of feminist literature.

Currently, The Awakening is enjoying great popularity and is available in many different editions. The rediscovery of this novel has revived interest in Chopin’s other writings. Several biographies have been published, along with a number of full-length critical studies. The Awakening is assigned as required reading in many women’s studies and literature courses. Because of the renewed interest in her groundbreaking novel, Chopin is also being read in translation in many foreign countries, including France and Japan. She is one of the few writers to have had the good fortune to be figuratively brought back from the dead, and her work is exerting a considerable influence on women’s literature and feminism in general.

The Awakening Historical Context

Suffragettes march for women Published by Gale Cengage

Creole Society
Kate Chopin lived in, and generally wrote about, life in the South. In The Awakening, she wrote...

(The entire section is 600 words.)

The Awakening Setting

Chopin lived in, and generally wrote about, life in the South. In The Awakening, she wrote specifically about Creole society in...

(The entire section is 249 words.)

The Awakening Quizzes

Chapter 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What kind of bird is hung in the cage?

2. Why does Leonce return to his own cottage?

3. What are the Farival twins doing at the main house?

4. Who is Edna bathing with?

5. How does Leonce look at Edna when she returns?

6. What does Leonce give to Edna upon her return?

7. What are Edna and Robert laughing about?

8. Where is Leonce going to spend the evening?

9. Why doesn’t Robert go with him?

10. Does Leonce keep his promise to the children?

1. A green and yellow parrot is hung in the cage.

2. Leonce returns to his own cottage...

(The entire section is 200 words.)

Chapter 2 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Edna look at objects?

2. How does Edna’s appearance differ from other women?

3. What about Robert’s appearance makes him seem immature?

4. Why does Robert smoke cigarettes?

5. How do we see the intimacy between Robert and Edna at this point?

6. Why does Robert want to go to Mexico?

7. Why does Madame Lebrun take in guests?

8. How is Edna’s background different from the other guests at Grand Isle?

9. What is Edna’s sister doing in the East?

10. Why does Robert assume Leonce wouldn’t be coming home for dinner?

1. She looks at...

(The entire section is 207 words.)

Chapter 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Edna have trouble talking to Leonce when he comes home from Klein’s?

2. What does Leonce do after he tells Edna that Raoul has a fever?

3. What is Leonce’s opinion of raising children?

4. Why is Edna so upset after she checks on Raoul?

5. What does the sea sound like when Edna goes outside?

6. What is different about this particular argument with Leonce that causes Edna to cry?

7. What does Edna feel while she cries?

8. Is Edna upset about the fact that she is crying?

9. What does Leonce send to Edna while he is away?

10. Is Leonce considered a good husband?


(The entire section is 210 words.)

Chapter 4 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is given as an example of Edna’s lack of mothering?

2. What is a “mother-woman”?

3. Who is considered a classic mother-woman?

4. What are three differences between Adele and Edna’s appearances?

5. When are Adele’s hands considered most beautiful?

6. Why did Edna cut a pattern for winter clothes for her children?

7. How do Edna and Robert know that Adele is pregnant again?

8. Why does Edna blush when Robert tells Adele it is safe to eat a bonbon?

9. Why doesn’t Edna feel entirely comfortable at Grand Isle?

10. According to Edna, what is the most distinguishing...

(The entire section is 265 words.)

Chapters 5 and 6 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is clear about Edna and Robert’s relationship?

2. Why is Robert allowed to spend so much time with married women at Grand Isle?

3. How does Edna feel about Adele’s beauty?

4. Why does Edna sketch?

5. Why does Edna repulse Robert’s head from her arm?

6. Why does Edna crumple up the picture of Adele?

7. How is the sea described here?

8. Why did Edna go bathing with Robert?

9. What is Edna beginning to realize?

10. Why is Edna’s realization potentially dangerous?

1. It is clear that they are very intimate.

2. He is...

(The entire section is 207 words.)

Chapter 7 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Edna’s attitude toward sharing confidences?

2. What is it about Adele that started to bring Edna out of her shell?

3. Why does Adele insist on bringing her needlework to the beach?

4. What is the difference in the way Edna and Adele dressed for the beach?

5. What is Edna gazing at when Adele begins questioning her thoughts?

6. What does Edna’s childhood meadow story tell her and us about her present state?

7. Why is Edna confused when Adele begins stroking her hand?

8. What is different about Edna’s relationship with Leonce and the other men she talks about?

9. How does Edna feel...

(The entire section is 288 words.)

Chapter 8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is different about Adele’s eyes when she talks to Robert?

2. What is Adele’s fear when she asks Robert to leave Edna alone?

3. How does Adele explain that fear to Robert?

4. Why is it important that nobody take Robert seriously?

5. What does Robert tell Adele about Alcee Arobin?

6. What is Robert’s thought about Edna?

7. How do the lovers walk?

8. Why does Madame Lebrun have someone else working the treadle of her sewing machine?

9. How does Madame Lebrun account for things going wrong in her life and the world?

10. What news does Madame Lebrun have for Robert?


(The entire section is 228 words.)

Chapter 9 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is the hall lit up and decorated?

2. Why are the Pontellier children exerting authority over the other children?

3. What songs do the Farival twins play?

4. Why does Adele keep up with her music?

5. What is Edna looking at when she sat on the windowsill?

6. What does Mademoiselle Reisz look like?

7. What does Edna think of when she hears the song Adele plays that she calls “Solitude”?

8. What is different about Edna as she hears Mademoiselle Reisz’s first chords on the piano?

9. What is Edna’s reaction to Mademoiselle Reisz’s music?

10. Why does Mademoiselle Reisz think...

(The entire section is 264 words.)

Chapter 10 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Edna feel when Robert is not around?

2. What is the odor Edna smells down by the sea?

3. Why had Edna not been able to learn to swim?

4. What is different about this night?

5. How does Edna feel when she starts swimming?

6. What is she looking for when she swims out?

7. What does Edna experience after she swims a certain distance?

8. How does Edna describe the night to Robert when he walks her home?

9. How does Robert describe it?

10. What happens in the silence when Edna is in the hammock and Robert is sitting by her?

1. She misses...

(The entire section is 246 words.)

Chapter 11 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where does Leonce find Edna when he returns to the cottage?

2. What does Leonce say to her?

3. What would Edna normally have done in this situation?

4. What is different about this night?

5. How does Leonce respond to Edna’s refusal to obey him?

6. How long is Leonce preparing to stay outside.

7. How does Edna feel when she realizes Leonce is staying outside with her?

8. Why does Edna go back inside?

9. What does Leonce do after Edna goes inside?

10. Who is the winner in this battle between Edna and Leonce?

1. She is lying in the hammock on...

(The entire section is 206 words.)

Chapter 12 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Edna sleep after finally going inside?

2. What is the something Edna feels is unattainable?

3. Was it usual for Edna to invite Robert to mass?

4. What does Robert note about Edna when they are drinking their coffee?

5. What does Mariequita look like?

6. What does Mariequita ask Robert?

7. Does Robert deny it?

8. What does Mariequita think of the fact that Edna is married?

9. Why is it understood that the lovers aren’t married?

10. What do Robert and Edna talk about on the boat?

1. She sleeps badly, disturbed by dreams that leave...

(The entire section is 218 words.)

Chapter 13 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What happens to Edna during the mass?

2. What is the only sound Edna hears after she leaves the mass?

3. Where does Robert take Edna to rest?

4. What does Edna do when she is alone in the bedroom?

5. How does Edna feel laying in the bed?

6. How does Edna feel when she awakes?

7. How does Edna turn their trip into a romantic fairy tale?

8. What is Robert’s response?

9. What does Robert do for Edna after she awakes?

10. How is the fairy tale quality continued when Robert and Edna leave?

1. She is overcome with a feeling of oppression and...

(The entire section is 251 words.)

Chapter 14 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Etienne still up when Edna returns?

2. How does Edna act with Etienne when she returns home?

3. Why is Edna so loving toward Etienne at this time?

4. Why is Adele staying with the children?

5. Why does Adele leave immediately after Edna returned?

6. How does Robert show his feelings as he says goodnight to Edna?

7. What does Robert do after he left Edna?

8. What does Edna realize about this summer at Grand Isle?

9. How does Edna feel about Robert’s leaving?

10. What does Edna do while waiting for Leonce to return?

1. He had refused...

(The entire section is 191 words.)

Chapter 15 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Edna learn that Robert is going to Mexico?

2. What does Edna do with her feeling of bewilderment?

3. How does Robert look when he sees Edna’s face?

4. How does Robert explain his sudden departure?

5. How does this news affect Edna’s appetite?

6. What does Adele warn Robert about?

7. What does Edna do when she goes back to her room?

8. Why does Edna refuse to go to the Lebruns?

9. What does Robert make clear to Edna before he leaves?

10. What does Edna realize after Robert leaves?

1. Several people tell her at once when she enters...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

Chapter 16 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Edna consider to be the only pleasurable moments she has?

2. How does Edna keep close to Robert after he leaves?

3. How does Leonce feel about Edna’s missing Robert?

4. Why is Edna jealous when she read’s Robert’s letter?

5. What does Edna tell Adele about her children?

6. Why can’t Adele understand what Edna is talking about?

7. What does Edna mean when she says she wouldn’t sacrifice herself for her children?

8. What do Edna and Mademoiselle Reisz talk about as they walk to the beach?

9. Why does Edna spend time with Mademoiselle Reisz if the woman’s meanness depresses...

(The entire section is 269 words.)

Chapter 17 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Leonce feel about his house in New Orleans?

2. What do Tuesdays mean for Edna?

3. What is Leonce angry about on this particular Tuesday?

4. Why is it so important to Leonce that Edna be home for her receptions?

5. Who does Leonce blame for the poorly cooked meal?

6. How does Edna react to Leonce’s reprimand and departure for the club?

7. What does Edna seek in the garden that night?

8. What does Edna find in the garden?

9. How does Edna act out her anger?

10. How do we know that this rebellion ends in defeat as her first one did?


(The entire section is 260 words.)

Chapter 18 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Edna feel about her children the morning after her fight with Leonce?

2. Why does Edna always find fault with her sketches?

3. Why does Edna take her sketches to Adele’s?

4. What is Edna thinking about as she walks to Adele’s?

5. What is symbolic about Edna considering the Ratignolles’ life French and foreign?

6. What are Edna’s first thoughts about Adele when she sees her?

7. What is one example given of the “fusion” the Ratignolles have accomplished in their marriage?

8. Why does Edna pity Adele after witnessing this marital bliss?

9. What does Edna mean by “life’s...

(The entire section is 244 words.)

Chapter 19 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is it more powerful for Edna to neglect her household than to have temper tantrums?

2. Why had Leonce always been a courteous husband?

3. How does Leonce’s anger contribute to Edna’s awakening?

4. How does Leonce feel about Edna’s painting?

5. Why is Adele’s piano playing different from Edna’s painting?

6. What can’t Leonce see about Edna when he says she’s “not herself”?

7. Why does Edna notice the housemaid’s back and shoulders?

8. How does Edna feels when she thinks of Robert?

9. When does Edna feel really happy?

10. What contributes to Edna’s days of...

(The entire section is 240 words.)

Chapter 20 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Edna want to visit Mademoiselle Reisz?

2. Why does Edna have such a hard time finding Mademoiselle Reisz?

3. Why does it make sense that Adele wouldn’t like Mademoiselle Reisz?

4. What does the Lebrun house remind Edna of?

5. Why is Victor fighting with the servant when he opens the door?

6. Why doesn’t Victor want to tell Edna about the time he had the evening before?

7. Why does Victor grow more daring in the telling of his story?

8. Why do Robert’s letters fill Edna with despondency?

9. What does Edna remember after she leaves Victor?

10. What does Victor perceive...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

Chapter 21 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the centerpiece of Mademoiselle Reisz’s apartment?

2. How is Mademoiselle Reisz described when Edna sees her?

3. Why did Mademoiselle Reisz think that Edna would never come to visit?

4. Why is Mademoiselle Reisz pleased when Edna admits that she’s not sure if she likes her?

5. What does Mademoiselle Reisz tell Edna about Robert’s letter?

6. How does Edna describe herself to Mademoiselle Reisz?

7. What does Mademoiselle Reisz tell Edna about being an artist?

8. What did Mademoiselle Reisz play for Edna while Edna was reading Robert’s letter?

9. What is Edna’s reaction to the...

(The entire section is 240 words.)

Chapter 22 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What kind of doctor is Dr. Mandelet?

2. Why does Leonce go to see Dr. Mandelet?

3. What is Edna’s problem as Leonce describes it?

4. How is this most affecting Leonce?

5. What are Dr. Mandelet’s first thoughts on Edna’s problem?

6. Why does he finally get concerned?

7. Why won’t Edna go to her sister’s upcoming wedding?

8. What does Dr. Mandelet attribute Edna’s problem to?

9. Why does Leonce invite Dr. Mandelet to dinner?

10. What is Dr. Mandelet’s fear about Edna?

1. He is a semi-retired physician, known more for wisdom than...

(The entire section is 208 words.)

Chapter 23 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the nature of Edna’s relationship with her father?

2. Why is she glad he is visiting?

3. What does Edna’s father look like?

4. Why can’t Edna flirt like Adele?

5. Why does Leonce not attend the Ratignolles’ parties?

6. How does Edna respond to Adele’s suggestion that it would help the Pontelliers’ relationship if Leonce stayed home more?

7. Why do Edna and her father have such a good time at the racetrack?

8. What does Dr. Mandelet think of Edna when he comes to dinner?

9. Why is Edna’s story significant?

10. What does Dr. Mandelet think about Edna’s problem...

(The entire section is 273 words.)

Chapter 24 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Leonce’s position in Edna’s fight with her father over her sister’s wedding?

2. What is the Colonel’s advice to Leonce about Edna?

3. What is hinted at about the Colonel’s wife?

4. How does Edna feel right before Leonce leaves for a long trip to New York?

5. How does she actually feel after Leonce and the children have gone?

6. What does she do when she is finally alone?

7. What is Edna’s first meal alone like?

8. What does Edna do after dinner?

9. What does Edna plan to do now that she is on her own?

10. How does Edna feel as she snuggles in her bed at night?...

(The entire section is 233 words.)

Chapter 25 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why can’t Edna work when it’s dark and cloudy?

2. How does Edna feel on her melancholy days?

3. What does Alcee look like?

4. Why does Edna enjoy the racetrack so much?

5. How does Edna feel while she is at the track?

6. How does Edna feel after Alcee takes her home?

7. What happens between Edna and Alcee at the track?

8. Why does Edna touch Alcee’s hand?

9. What happens when Alcee looks into Edna’s eyes?

10. What is Edna’s reaction to Alcee after he has gone?

1. She needs the sun to mellow her mood.

2. She feels as if...

(The entire section is 223 words.)

Chapter 26 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Edna deliberate over how to answer Alcee’s apology?

2. Why is it so easy for Alcee to become intimate with Edna?

3. Why does Edna visit Mademoiselle Reisz?

4. Why do you think Mademoiselle Reisz is always eating or drinking chocolate?

5. What reason does Edna give for moving out of her house?

6. How does Edna have the money to be on her own?

7. What is Edna’s big resolve?

8. Why does Edna sigh after announcing her farewell dinner party?

9. What good news does Edna find out from Mademoiselle Reisz?

10. Why does Edna send a box of candy to her children?


(The entire section is 248 words.)

Chapters 27 and 28 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Edna say she is a wicked woman?

2. Why does she think at the same time that she is not?

3. What is Alcee’s response to Edna’s question?

4. What is significant about Alcee’s response?

5. What does Mademoiselle Reisz tell Edna about courage?

6. How does Edna feel after kissing Alcee?

7. What is the significance of the reproach Edna imagines from Robert?

8. What does Edna understand about life after being with Alcee?

9. What specifically does Edna not feel?

10. Why does Edna feel a pang of regret?

1. Edna knows she would be...

(The entire section is 236 words.)

Chapter 29 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Edna go about her preparations to move?

2. What is causing Edna to be in such a rush?

3. What does Edna mean when she says the old house seems like a forbidden temple?

4. What does Edna take from the old house to the new?

5. How does Alcee enter the house?

6. How does Alcee expect to find Edna after their night together?

7. What is Edna doing when Alcee walks in the house?

8. How is Edna described when she is up on the stepladder?

9. What is significant about this description of Edna?

10. Why does Alcee call Edna’s dinner a coup d’état?


(The entire section is 234 words.)

Chapter 30 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Adele unable to attend Edna’s dinner party?

2. Describe the splendor of the dinner table.

3. How does Edna appear, sitting at the head of the table?

4. Why is the occasion doubly special for Edna?

5. Despite all the glamour, how does Edna feel?

6. Why is Alcee’s name on the letterhead of a law firm?

7. What does Mrs. Highcamp do to Victor, and what does she want?

8. What song does Victor sing at the table?

9. What is Edna’s reaction?

10. What does Edna have to do to get Victor to stop singing?

1. She is close to giving birth and...

(The entire section is 247 words.)

Chapter 31 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where does Edna go after her party?

2. How does Alcee act around Edna now?

3. What does Edna mean when Alcee offers her a spray of jessamine, and she says she doesn’t want anything?

4. What does Edna notice as she and Alcee walk to the new house?

5. What is the surprise waiting for Edna at her new house?

6. How does the parlor in the new house look when they enter?

7. How does Alcee’s touch on Edna’s hair feel?

8. Why does Edna say the party was stupid?

9. What does Alcee notice when he touches Edna’s shoulder?

10. How does the evening end for Edna and Alcee?


(The entire section is 210 words.)

Chapter 32 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Leonce’s main concern with Edna’s moving out of the house?

2. What specifically is Leonce not concerned about?

3. How does Leonce handle Edna’s move?

4. How does Edna feel about her new home?

5. What does Edna’s “spiritual awakening” feel like to her?

6. How does Edna feel when she goes to visit her children?

7. What does Edna give to her children?

8. How does Edna respond to the children’s concerns about their place in the new house?

9. How does Edna feel when she leaves the children?

10. How does she feel when she returns home?


(The entire section is 309 words.)

Chapter 33 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Edna want to visit Mademoiselle Reisz?

2. What does Adele make Edna promise before she leaves her?

3. What does Adele warn Edna about?

4. Why is Edna caught off guard when Robert tells her he has been home for two days?

5. What reason does Robert give for coming home?

6. What does Edna see when she looks into Robert’s eyes?

7. Why is Edna glad that Robert never knew her in her former home?

8. What does Robert mean when he said he’s been “seeing the waves and the white beach of Grand Isle”?

9. Why does Edna mimic Robert’s answer?

10. Why does Robert say that Edna is...

(The entire section is 251 words.)

Chapter 34 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What happens when Robert and Edna sit down to eat dinner?

2. Why does Celestine spend time talking to Robert?

3. Why does Robert go out during dinner?

4. Why is Robert looking to leave when he says perhaps he shouldn’t have come back?

5. What does Robert say in response to Edna’s remembrance of all the time they spent together at Grand Isle?

6. Why does Edna pick up Robert’s tobacco pouch?

7. How does Alcee’s appearance affect the evening?

8. Why does Edna send Alcee away to mail a letter?

9. How does Edna feel after Alcee leaves?

10. How does Edna feel about Robert being...

(The entire section is 245 words.)

Chapter 35 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Edna feel when she wakes up?

2. How does she plan to melt Robert’s reserve?

3. What does she daydream about?

4. From whom does Edna receive letters that morning?

5. How does Edna answer Leonce’s letter?

6. What does Edna do with Alcee’s letter?

7. How does Edna’s next few days pass?

8. What does Edna do to try to see Robert?

9. Why does Edna enjoy the fastness of her ride with Alcee?

10. How do Edna’s feelings change after not seeing Robert for a few days?

1. The morning is filled with sunlight and hope, and she imagines...

(The entire section is 251 words.)

Chapter 36 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Robert call Edna “Mrs. Pontellier”?

2. Why is Edna being selfish when she calls Robert selfish?

3. Why is walking so important to Edna?

4. In what way does Robert show himself to be just like Leonce and Alcee?

5. What makes Robert finally tell Edna that he loves her?

6. Why was Robert fighting against his feelings?

7. What does Edna tell Robert about the state of her marriage?

8. Why does Robert turn white when he hears Edna’s statement?

9. Why does Robert plead with Edna not to go to Adele’s?

10. How do we know that Edna is living in her fantasy world?


(The entire section is 361 words.)

Chapter 37 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Monsieur Ratignolle doing when Edna enters the drugstore?

2. How are the pains of childbirth first described as Edna sees Adele?

3. Why isn’t Dr. Mandelet upset at Adele’s “upraidings”?

4. What is the vague dread Edna began to feel?

5. Why do Edna’s childbirths seem unreal and far away?

6. How would Edna explain the need for chloroform?

7. Why doesn’t Edna leave when she wants to?

8. Why does Edna revolt against nature?

9. What are Adele’s final words to Edna?

10. Does Edna think of her children that night?

1. He is...

(The entire section is 220 words.)

Chapter 38 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why doesn’t Edna want to go in Dr. Mandelet’s car?

2. How do we know Edna is thinking about Robert?

3. Why are Edna’s thoughts racing ahead of her?

4. Why does Dr. Mandelet think it was cruel of Adele to have had Edna there?

5. Why is Edna so confused?

6. How do we know that Dr. Mandelet has some understanding of Edna’s problem?

7. How does Edna feel about her awakening?

8. How does Edna state the crux of her dilemma?

9. What happens when Edna begins to think about Robert again?

10. Why does Robert leave?

1. She wants to be alone with...

(The entire section is 290 words.)

Chapter 39 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What are Victor and Mariequita talking about when Edna shows up at Grand Isle?

2. Why, according to Mariequita, would it have been easy for her to run off with somebody’s husband?

3. Why do Victor and Mariequita think Edna is an apparition when she first appears?

4. How does Edna seem when she first arrives?

5. Why isn’t Edna thinking about anything as she walks down to the beach?

6. What has Edna concluded about her life?

7. What way has Edna devised to elude the slavery her children have planned for her?

8. What is the symbolism of the bird?

9. Why does Edna take her clothes off?


(The entire section is 302 words.)