Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 524
That evening, in Chapter XXVII, Alcee says he has never seen Edna in such a good mood. He sits close to her, letting his fingers lightly touch her hair, which she enjoys. Then she tells Alcee she needs to figure out what kind of woman she is; she feels wicked but doesn’t really think she is. Alcee responds that she needn’t think about it because he can tell her what kind of woman she is.
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Then Edna recounts something Mademoiselle Reisz had said to her about how birds that want to soar above tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. Alcee responds that Mademois-elle Reisz must be demented, but Edna argues that she seems wonderfully sane to her.
Alcee notes that Edna’s thoughts seem far away, then leans over and kisses her on the lips. She clasps his head, holding his lips to hers. It is the first kiss of her life that arouses her.
Chapter XXVIII is the second narrative break of the novel. Chopin tells us that Edna cried a bit after Alcee left. She felt irresponsible, and she felt the reproaches of Leonce and Robert. However, she also felt that she understood the world a little better. She did not feel any shame or remorse, only regret that it was not the kiss of love that had inflamed her.
Discussion and Analysis
In Chapter XXVII, Edna knows that by society’s standards she is wicked because she is in love with another man and wants to leave her husband. Yet she doesn’t feel wicked because, for the first time in her life, she is following her heart and being true to herself. We see here how Alcee is no different from Leonce or any other man. He tells Edna he can tell her about herself better than she can. He is already assuming a proprietary “I know best” air with her.
He also clearly doesn’t understand what she is trying to do with her life; his only response to Mademoiselle Reisz’s comment is that he heard she was demented. Mademoiselle Reisz is the only one who truly understands Edna and the only one who understands how difficult her journey is; even Edna doesn’t quite get that yet. Mademoiselle Reisz knows how difficult it is to defy convention and rise above prejudice.
When Alcee kisses Edna, she feels aroused for the first time in her life.
In Chapter XXVIII, Edna is filled with emotion after being with Alcee. She knows that Leonce would feel betrayed because of all the material things he has provided her with. She thinks Robert would feel betrayed because she gave herself for less than true love. However, Edna now understands the difference between lust and love and does not feel ashamed of her lust. It is crucial that she does not feel shame or remorse; this is because she is responding to her true nature, one she has denied her whole life. She feels that anything she does now is acceptable. The only regret she has is that it was Alcee and not Robert who is her true love.