What is Adèle Ratignolle's "condition"?

Adèle Ratignolle's "condition" is that she is pregnant. It was considered inappropriate to refer to pregnancy as such during this era, and so it was only referred to euphemistically, if at all, as a woman's "condition."

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Adèle Ratignolle's "condition" is pregnancy. The narrator says that Adèle has been married for seven years and that she has a baby approximately every two years or so; thus, she has three babies already by the time the narrative begins. The narrator claims that Adèle is "beginning to think of...

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Adèle Ratignolle's "condition" is pregnancy. The narrator says that Adèle has been married for seven years and that she has a baby approximately every two years or so; thus, she has three babies already by the time the narrative begins. The narrator claims that Adèle is "beginning to think of a fourth one," and so she is always "talking about her 'condition.'" However, her condition is not at all obvious, and evidently, no one would have any idea that she has this condition if it were not often mentioned in conversation.

The fact that Adèle's "condition" is discussed at the same time as her marriage and pregnancies is a good clue to a modern reader that her fourth and current pregnancy is referred to as her "condition." It isn't obvious to other people yet because she is only in the early months of pregnancy and isn't really beginning to show. During this era, it was considered taboo to refer to pregnancy, and so it was only referred to euphemistically, such as it is here, as Adèle's "condition."

Later in the text, Edna Pontellier, the main character, attends Adèle during childbirth. At that point, it's been several months, and everyone has returned to New Orleans from Grand Isle.

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