Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 565
Edna cannot work when it is dark and cloudy; she needs the sunlight to inspire her. On rainy days she goes out to see friends or sits home alone feeling as if her life is passing her by.
She begins frequenting the racetrack. One afternoon, Mrs. Highcamp and Alcee Arobin invited her to the track. She plays for very high stakes and wins; she feels intoxicated.
After dinner at the Highcamps, Alcee drives Edna home, and she agrees to go to the races with him again. After Alcee leaves, Edna feels hungry, restless, and excited. She wants something exciting to happen and regrets she did not ask Alcee to stay and talk for a while.
A few days later Alcee calls on Edna to go to the races, and this time they go alone. She feels excited again and becomes easily intimate with Alcee, who is good at initiating such intimacy. He stays for dinner, and afterward they sit by the fire. He shows Edna a scar on his wrist, and she touches his hand as she looks at it. Then she jumps up and walks away, agitated.
Alcee walks back over to her, and she feels an awakening sensuousness as she looks at him. He sees it and feels emboldened to take her hand when he says goodnight.
However, when Alcee asks if she will go to the races again, she says no and tells him to leave, saying that she doesn’t like him; they both know she is lying. He kisses her hand, and she explains that she was excited from the track and hopes she hadn’t misled him. He also apologizes and finally leaves.
After Alcee left, Edna stares at her hand where he kissed her. She feels like she had already been unfaithful and wonders what Robert would think of it. She knows she doesn’t really care for Alcee, yet his presence and his touch act as a “narcotic” upon her. She falls into a deep sleep.
Discussion and Analysis
As Edna becomes more independent, she grows more confident in herself as an artist. Yet it is not enough, and there are days when she feels her life is passing her by.
Mrs. Highcamp is a married woman who has affairs with young men. She attracts them through her young daughter and then seeks them for herself. She is a route Edna will later choose not to go.
One place Edna feels young and alive is at the racetrack. She wins a lot of money and feels intoxicated. Chopin often describes Edna as feeling intoxicated when she feels powerful.
After spending the whole day with the purposefully charming Alcee, Edna feels restless and excited. She wants something to happen. She doesn’t realize it yet, but Alcee stirred a passion in her. When they finally spend some time alone together, it becomes more clear. Alcee, who is used to seducing women, gets Edna to touch his hand by showing her a scar on his wrist. Her own response flusters her though, and she walks away from him. She tries to send him away, telling him she doesn’t like him, but it is too late. After he leaves, she stares at her hand where he kissed it good-bye and feels like she was already unfaithful. This is because of what she is thinking and feeling about Alcee.
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.
- 30,000+ book summaries
- 20% study tools discount
- Ad-free content
- PDF downloads
- 300,000+ answers
- 5-star customer support