Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 465
Summary The chapter begins with a description of Edna Pontellier. She has bright yellowish brown eyes and hair, and her eyebrows are a shade darker. She is handsome rather than beautiful, wears a frank expression, and has an engaging manner. Additionally, there is depth to her eyes and a subtlety...
(The entire section contains 465 words.)
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The chapter begins with a description of Edna Pontellier. She has bright yellowish brown eyes and hair, and her eyebrows are a shade darker. She is handsome rather than beautiful, wears a frank expression, and has an engaging manner. Additionally, there is depth to her eyes and a subtlety to her features.
Robert Lebrun is also described for the reader. He is smoking a cigarette because he cannot afford cigars, although he has one that Leonce Pontellier had given to him. He is clean shaven and similar in complexion to Edna.
Robert and Edna chat together about their adventure in the water, and everything that is going on around them, including the children who are playing croquet and the Farival twins. They also talk about themselves and are both very interested in what the other has to say. Robert talks about his long-held desire to go to Mexico and make his fortune and how he remembers Grand Isle when there was no need for guests.
Edna talks about her childhood and her home in Kentucky. She reads a letter from her sister and Robert asks many questions about the family. Finally it is time to dress for dinner. Edna realizes Leonce won’t be coming home, and Robert agrees because there were many club men over at Klein’s. Robert then plays with the Pontellier children until dinner is ready.
Discussion and Analysis
The physical description of Edna Pontellier is a clue to her character and the journey she will undertake. Her eyes look at things as if “lost in some inward maze of contemplation of thought.” Her eyes have depth, and there is subtlety to her features. She is clearly not an ordinary woman. There is something deep going on inside her, some inner searching. The fact that she is handsome rather than beautiful gives a masculine edge to her and, in fact, her journey takes her into a world that had previously been exclusively male.
Robert, on the other hand, is described as a callow youth on whose face “rested no shadow of care.” It is obvious that he is no match for her. Still Chopin makes it clear that they have an easygoing friendship and that they truly enjoy one another’s company. This is in direct contrast to Edna’s relationship with her husband. For example, Leonce doesn’t come home for dinner, because he would rather be with the men at Klein’s.
Chopin also introduces another characteristic that sets Edna apart from her peers. She is clearly American, and any French ancestry has been “lost in dilution.” Her husband, as well as all the guests at Grand Isle, are French Creole. They have a different set of norms, values, and customs than those with which she grew up.