Chapter 31 Summary and Analysis
Celestine: the Pontelliers’ servant
After everyone leaves, Edna and Alcee lock up and leave for the new house. Celestine, the Pontelliers’ servant, is moving in with Edna into the new house but will go back and clean up at the old house in the morning. Edna is quiet and seems disheartened.
When they arrive at the new house, it feels homey and hospitable; Edna had been working on it already. It is also filled with flowers that Alcee had sent over earlier.
Edna tells Alcee that she feels tired and miserable and that she just wants to rest. She puts her head down on the table, and Alcee begins stroking her hair, then moves to her shoulders. Finally, he sits down and kisses her. When she says she thought he was leaving, he replies that he will after he says good night. However, he does not leave until after they make love.
Discussion and Analysis
Edna feels disheartened after her party, wanting nothing but to be alone (since Robert is not available). She is happy to go to her new house, which she has already made homey and hospitable. This is in direct contrast to the old house, which was telling her to go away.
Despite Edna’s stated intention to be alone, Alcee’s magnetic hands draw her in and she follows the desires of her body. It is as if she no longer cares, and for the moment, she is willing to settle for second best. Her desire to feel something, to experience whatever life has to offer, outweighs the emptiness she feels with Alcee.