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In chapter 19 of Kate Chopin's The Awakening we witness Edna Pontellier growing steadily careless about her role as a wife and mother, and more interested in her self-discovery.
This self-discovery, namely, this awakening, surprises Edna in several different ways. She discovers a number of simple pleasures and an equal amount of things that she is not willing to like or to do any longer. However, this discovery also shocks Leonce.
Mr. Pontellier had been a rather courteous husband so long as he met a certain tacit submissiveness in his wife. But her new and unexpected line of conduct completely bewildered him. It shocked him. Then her absolute disregard for her duties as a wife angered him. When Mr. Pontellier became rude, Edna grew insolent. She had resolved never to take another step backward.
Her husband Leonce, as a witness to all this, does not know what exactly is going on with Edna. In his nature, he is willing to tolerate some of Edna's behaviors as long as she does not forget the social expectations bestowed upon her as a wife and mother. However, he is slowly noticing that Edna has simply changed for good.
It sometimes entered Mr. Pontellier's mind to wonder if his wife were not growing a little unbalanced mentally. He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.
Hence, what Leonce is not aware of is that his wife's transformation is for good. He simply analyzes the surface of her actions, judging them as mere caprices. However, he is not aware of anything going on inside her heart. This shows that their relationship is also lived out on the surface: a show of conventions in which Edna is refusing to participate any longer.
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