Chapter 38 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 625

When Edna gets outside, she still feels dazed. Dr. Mandelet offers her a ride home, but she says she wants to walk. Dr. Mandelet decides to walk her home. He tells her that she shouldn’t have been with Adele.

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Edna responds that Adele was right, that she has to think of the children some time, preferably sooner than later. She tells Dr. Mandelet, in response to his question, that she will not be going abroad with Leonce when he returns. She tells him she just wants to be left alone and that nobody has the right to force her to do things, except children, maybe.

Dr. Mandelet seems to understand her. He says that youth is given to illusions, the illusions being the way to trap women into motherhood no matter what the consequences.

Edna agrees with Dr. Mandelet. She says her life had been a dream, but now she has awakened. She hints that she doesn’t like what she found but thinks it is still probably better to wake up than to live with illusion all her life.

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Dr. Mandelet offers his help if Edna feels like confiding in him, but she declines. She says the only thing she wants is her own way, which she realizes could cause pain to others. She also says she doesn’t want to hurt her children.

When Edna returns home, she sits outside for a while, remembering her scene with Robert before she was called away. She acknowledges that tomorrow she will have to think of the children, but for tonight she just wants to be with Robert.

When Edna goes inside, Robert is not there. He left a note, saying he left because he loved her. Edna grows faint and lays down on the sofa. She remains there, not sleeping, all night.

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Discussion and Analysis
Edna is stung by Adele’s words, and, against her will, she finally begins to think about the children. She had talked herself into believing that nobody, including her children, should have a claim on her, but now she’s questioning that with regard to her children.

Dr. Mandelet seems to have some understanding of Edna’s problem. He acknowledges that Nature secures mothers by allowing young girls to be swayed by illusion. He also acknowledges that not every woman is cut out for motherhood, or marriage, but that there is no escape once it has begun.

Edna agrees that her life was based on illusion before, and she says that even though she doesn’t like reality, especially the fact that her children have to be considered, it’s still better to know the truth than to live with illusion. Edna has awakened not to freedom but to limitation. She admits her selfishness, saying that she wants her own way and doesn’t care who gets hurt—except that she doesn’t want to hurt her children. This, as we know, is her central dilemma. How can she have Robert without hurting her children?

As upset as she is, all thoughts of the children leave Edna when she thinks about Robert waiting for her at her house. She is ready to put off thinking about them for one more day.

When Edna returns, Robert is gone. He cannot live the “free” life that Edna wants. He cannot live in sin or with scandal. Robert is an honorable Creole man and wants a traditional marriage.

Edna turned her “affair” with Robert into a fairy tale (see, for example, Chapter XIII). However in true fairy tales, the woman is awakened and worthy of love because she is pure, for example, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel. In this case, Edna is not pure and is not worthy of Robert’s love.

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Chapter 37 Summary and Analysis


Chapter 39 Summary and Analysis