Do Edna and Alcée have a romantic relationship in "The Awakening"?

Quick answer:

Edna and Alcée do start sleeping together once Edna begins living on her own.

Expert Answers

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Edna undoubtedly has a sexual relationship with Alcee. At first, she resists his charm and good looks, though the two of them do spend time together at the races while Edna's husband is away on business. Alcee also stops by Edna's for dinner several times. The two talk freely on these occasions, which both excites and flusters Edna. When she touches a scar on Alcee's wrist, she begins to grow passionate in her feelings but still suppresses them. Edna is attracted to Alcee on a purely physical level and does not feel too guilty about cheating on her husband, Leonce, but she does regret that she is carrying on with a man she does not love the way she loves Robert Lebrun.

Eventually, Edna gives in to her passions, though only gradually. One night when talking about Madmoiselle Reisz's demands that those who defy traditional standards must have steadfast courage, Edna and Alcee share a kiss. Edna finds that her kiss with Alcee is "the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded." By the end of chapter 31, author Kate Chopin hints as strongly as possible that Alcee finally seduces Edna into bed: "He did not say good-night until she had become supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties."

While the affair does not last and Alcee is ultimately too shallow an individual to fully satisfy Edna romantically, their relationship a key element of Edna's total awakening, particularly in the sexual sense.

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