Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 597
Alcee writes Edna a note of apology, and Edna feels silly for having made a fuss over a kiss on the hand. Soon they are spending time together again, growing closer and more intimate. Sometimes he talks in a way that makes her blush, but after a while she enjoys it; there is something in her that responds to it.
When Edna needs a lift, she visits Mademoiselle Reisz; her music “seemed to reach Edna’s spirit and set it free.” Upon arriving at Mademoiselle Reisz’s apartment, Edna informs her that she is moving out of her house to a smaller one around the corner. When pressed for a reason, Edna says it is because she wants a place of her own. She has her own money now because of her winnings at the track and from sales of her paintings. She has resolved never to “belong” to anyone again. Edna also tells Mademoiselle Reisz that she is giving a dinner party the night before she leaves the old house.
Mademoiselle Reisz gives another of Robert’s letters to Edna to read. She tells Edna that the reason he doesn’t write her is because he is in love with her and is trying to forget her because she is not free. Edna reads as Mademoiselle Reisz’s music brightens her soul, “preparing her for joy and exultation”; the letter says Robert is coming home soon.
Edna finally admits to Mademoiselle Reisz that she is in love with Robert, although she can’t explain why. She feels suddenly happy, knowing he is coming home. On her way home, she stops at a confectioners to send a box of candy to her children. Then she writes a cheerful letter to Leonce, telling him of her intention to move out.
Discussion and Analysis
Alcee has wormed his way into Edna’s life, and they are growing more and more intimate. She is getting used to having him around the way she got used to having Robert around, although she doesn’t feel the same way about Alcee. Edna likes having adoring men around her. In Chapter VI she says of Leonce that “his absolute devotion flattered her.” So although she is seeking and gaining independence, she does not want to be totally alone. It is important to her to have a man around, which is why she cannot become like Mademoiselle Reisz.
Alcee continues to bring out Edna’s sexuality, talking to her in ways that make her blush at first, but soon please her, “appealing to the animalism that stirred impatiently within her.”
Edna visits Mademoiselle Reisz and tells her that she is moving from her house into a smaller one around the corner because she wants it to be hers completely. She has been gaining not only emotional independence but financial independence through her winnings at the track and sales of her paintings. This financial independence can buy her physical independence. It also takes her farther away from being a traditional woman; financial independence was usually reserved for men.
Mademoiselle Reisz tells Edna that Robert is coming home and that he is in love with her. Then Edna admits her own feelings for him. One wonders why Mademoiselle Reisz is so interested in Robert and Edna; perhaps it is because she has no love in her own life.
When Edna leaves Mademoiselle Reisz’s, she sends her children a box of candy along with a loving note. As usual she feels loving toward her children when she feels happy and fulfilled with her own life.
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