Chapter 18 Summary and Analysis
The next morning Leonce asks Edna to meet him in the city to go shopping; she does not want to go shopping. He notes that Edna is not looking well; she is pale and very quiet. Edna watches him leave and watches the children playing. She feels no interest in anything around her. In fact she feels the outside world, including her children, has suddenly become alien and antagonistic.
Although Edna criticizes most of her sketches, she gathers up some of them and leaves the house to go visit Adele. She is thinking about Robert, feeling an “incomprehensible longing.”
The Ratignolles live not far from the Pontelliers, in spacious apartments over Monsieur Ratignolle’s drugstore. Every two weeks the Ratignolles give a musical party, and they were very popular. Edna considers their lifestyle to be very French and very foreign.
Adele looks more beautiful than ever, and Edna hopes she might someday paint her. She shows Adele her sketches. She knows her opinions are valueless but wants to hear the encouragement. Adele, of course, praises them highly and even shows them off to her husband when he comes in for his midday lunch. Monsieur Ratignolle is a good man, and he and Adele have a close relationship where they understand each other perfectly. When he speaks, Adele listens attentively, even laying down her fork so as to listen better.
Edna feels a little depressed after leaving them, finding nothing worthwhile in their domestic harmony. She feels some pity for Adele, who would never know a moment of anguish, never have a taste of “life’s delirium.”
Discussion and Analysis
Edna, immersed in her defeat of the night before, feels hopeless and depressed. Her home does not interest her, and her children become antagonists who are trying to enslave her. They have become antagonists because if it were not for them, she could leave.
Edna tries to forget Robert, but she cannot. She is “under a spell,” continuing the mystical and fairy tale terminology. Whenever she thinks of him, she feels an “incomprehensible” longing; it is incomprehensible to her because she has never felt anything like it before.
Edna has no...
(The entire section is 558 words.)