Chapter 4 Summary

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Last Updated April 18, 2023.

The chapter starts by depicting how Edna carries out her role as a mother, and how it may compare to the other women around her. Leonce is unable to pinpoint precisely where Edna falls short in this aspect, but he offers an instance where one of their children tumbles, and instead of seeking comfort in their mother's arms, as most children would, they do not. Edna does not fit the mold of a "mother-woman," a type of woman who adores their children, idolizes their husbands, and lacks their own distinct identity.

Adele Ratignolle, a close friend of Edna, is an example of a motherly woman who embodies all the qualities of grace and charm associated with women. She is shown to have a great affection for Edna and is present with her, engaged in her usual sewing activities when Leonce's box of delicacies arrives. On that day, Adele brings a pattern for Edna to use for a winter outfit for the children. Even though Edna is not interested in this task, she agrees to cut the pattern so as not to hurt Adele's feelings.

Edna presents Adele with some bonbons, but Adele accepts them with hesitation due to her current pregnancy. Adele has been wed for seven years and has given birth every two years. Robert is present and attempts to comfort Adele regarding the bonbons, but Edna becomes embarrassed when Robert mentions Adele's pregnancy.

During the summer at Grand Isle, all the people there are Creole except for Edna, who became a Creole through her marriage. However, she does not feel completely at ease with them. Edna is particularly fascinated by the Creole's openness and lack of prudishness, which coexist with their strict adherence to chastity. This combination of openness and morality is unique, and fascinating. Nonetheless, she is embarrassed by Adele's detailed account of a challenging childbirth and by the content of a book that everyone else had read and discussed openly.

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