Chapter 37 Summary and Analysis
Edna arrives at the Ratignolles and finds Adele on a sofa in the salon, clearly in pain. She is berating Dr. Mandelet to her servant for being late. She is getting a little hysterical.
Finally Dr. Mandelet arrives, and Adele goes into her room. Edna stays with her, but she feels uneasy. She is recalling her own experiences with a feeling of dread. She begins to wish she had not come, but she stays. Although she is in agony, she stays to witness the birth that she considers a torture.
She is stunned and speechless when she says goodbye to Adele later. Adele is exhausted but whispers to Edna to think of her children.
Discussion and Analysis
Adele is in obvious pain; her beautiful face is drawn and pinched, and her eyes are haggard and unnatural. We are clearly not supposed to look on this as a pleasant experience.
Edna begins to feel uneasy and afraid. There is a part of her that knows this childbirth will have some major impact on her. She doesn’t remember much about her own childbirths because she was a different woman then. She remembers the stupor, which we know means that she felt hopeless and powerless when she gave birth.
Edna was in agony watching what she considered to be a scene of torture; she has deep resentment against Mother Nature for forcing women to bear children.
The last words Adele says to Edna are a plea to think of her children. Although she didn’t know it, this is what Edna had been dreading. She couldn’t witness a childbirth without thinking of her own children, whom she had been trying very hard to forget.