Chapter 12 Summary and Analysis
Mariequita: a “mischievous,” carefree Spanish girl who works at Grand Isle
Baudelet: an old sailor who takes people by boat to Mass at Cheniere Caminada
Edna sleeps badly and is up and dressed early. Only a few others are up, those who intend to go to mass at the Cheniere. Edna sends Madame Lebrun’s servant to wake up Robert, to tell him to come to mass with her. They each have coffee and a roll, and then join the others at the wharf. The lovers are there, the lady in black, old Monsieur Farival, and a young girl named Mariequita whom Robert knows and speaks to in Spanish.
Edna stares at Mariequita, and Mariequita asks Robert if Edna is Robert’s lover. Robert answers that she is married.
Edna feels light and free again sailing on the bay, and Robert asks her to go with him to Grand Terre the following day. They chat about it for a while in an intimate manner, and then everybody goes to the church except Baudelet and Mariequita.
Discussion and Analysis
Here Chopin shows us how Edna’s “awakening” has taken hold of her; she is not acting with purpose so much as “blindly following whatever impulse moved her.” Edna has moved forward from feeling “aimless” and “unguided” in Chapter VII to feeling as if “alien hands” were directing her. She asks Robert to join her for mass without thinking about it, without even noticing that she had never done that before.
Mariequita, who is very open, points out the truth and the irony about Edna and Robert’s relationship, although nobody realizes it. When she asks Robert if Edna is his lover, and Robert answers that she is married, Mariequita responds with a story about a man who ran away on a boat with a married lady. Obviously, Edna’s marriage is not going to protect them from their feelings. In fact, Edna and Robert are on a boat together as the story is being told, and they make plans to go sailing together again the following day. Mariequita and Robert also share a laugh about the lovers not being married; obviously it is not just Edna for whom marriage and romance are separate.