Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 437
Madame Antoine: a village woman at Cheniere Caminada whose house Edna stays in when she feels ill
Tonie: the son of Madame Antoine
Edna begins to feel tired and sick during the service and leaves before it is over. Robert follows her outside and suggests they go to Madame Antoine’s. Madame Antoine welcomes them in and brings Edna to a room with a large, white four-posted bed. Robert sits outside with Madame Antoine to wait for Tonie. Edna bathes in the basin, undresses, and luxuriates in the smell of the bed and the feel of her body. Eventually she falls asleep.
When Edna awakes, she feels as if she has been asleep a long time. She washes again and walks into the adjoining room where she enjoys the food and drink Madame Antoine has set out for her. When she finds Robert, they joke that she slept for 100 years, and they are the only two people left.
Robert prepares more food, and they eat a hearty meal, deciding that since the others have already returned to Grand Isle they will wait till the sun goes down to return. Madame Antoine returns and tells them stories under the night moon. Then they leave in Tonie’s boat.
Discussion and Analysis
We see for sure here that Edna’s awakening is not religious in nature; in fact her strict religious upbringing was one of the causes of her repression. Now free to come or go, she gets sick while in church and has to leave. This sickness also gives her more time to be alone with Robert. Away from the stodgy church, Edna can again hear the voice of the sea and continue with her romantic getaway.
Alone and partially undressed in Madame Antoine’s bed, Edna experiences an erotic enjoyment of her own body. This growing sexuality is part of her awakening.
When Edna wakes up, she and Robert continue the fairy tale fantasy they have been sharing. Edna asks Robert how many years she has been asleep, and he answers, “one hundred.” He then tells her that he has been guarding her slumber since they are the only people left on earth. Later when the sun goes down, Edna can hear “the whispering voices of dead men and the click of muffled gold.” When she and Robert finally leave in Tonie’s boat, “misty spirit forms were prowling in the shadows.”
Edna eats when she first wakes up, and she eats again with Robert. Her appetite, her pleasure in food and drink, is part of the sensuousness that is beginning to surround her.
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