Chapter 23 Summary and Analysis
Alcee Arobin: a young man-about-town with whom Edna has an affair
The Highcamps and the Merrimans: society people who are social friends of Edna’s
The Colonel: Edna’s father
Edna’s father is in the city to purchase a wedding gift for Edna’s sister Janet. He is a retired colonel and still has his military bearing. Edna and her father are not very close but are companionable. He sits still for a sketch, happy to sit rigidly for hours.
Edna takes her father to a party at the Ratignolles’ where Adele flirts with him. Edna notes that she is unable to do that. Leonce does not attend these parties; he prefers to be at the club. Adele expresses disapproval of this, but Edna is happy that they don’t spend much time together. She wonders what they would talk about if they did.
One afternoon Edna and her father go to the racetrack, and win, and that is the main topic of conversation at dinner. At the track, they had met Mrs. Merriman, Mrs. Highcamp, and Alcee Arobin. Leonce, of course, disapproves of gambling. After dinner everyone tells stories. Edna tells one about a woman who had paddled away with a lover one night and never returned.
Dr. Mandelet is at dinner that night observing Edna, and he thinks Edna seems radiant. He notices a subtle change in her, a liveliness he had not seen before.
Discussion and Analysis
The Colonel allows a glimpse into the other male influence on Edna. Her father is stern, rigid, and rugged; he wears padded jackets to make himself look bigger. When Edna is sketching him, he gets angry at the children for interrupting and disturbing his “fixed lines.” In today’s terms he would be called macho. He is certainly not someone who would be sympathetic to Edna’s feelings.
Edna marvels at Adele’s ability...
(The entire section is 481 words.)