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Chapter I 1. Describe the attitude of Leonce toward Edna and how it differs from Robert’s.

2. What is the symbolism of the caged parrot?

Chapter II 1. What does Edna’s appearance tell us about her personality?

2. How does Edna and Robert’s relationship differ from Edna and Leonce’s thus far?

Chapter III 1. What does Edna’s cry and accompanying feelings suggest about her “awakening”?

2. Why is it actually a problem for Edna that Leonce is considered to be such a good husband?

Chapter IV 1. How does Edna’s desire for independence conflict with the image of the mother-woman?

2. Compare and contrast Edna and Adele with respect to physical appearance and temperament.

Chapters V and VI 1. Describe the changes Edna has gone through so far.

2. How does the sea fit in with Edna’s awakening?

Chapter VII 1. Compare Edna’s feelings for Leonce with her feelings for the soldier, the tragedian, and Robert.

2. Why does Edna’s sharing feel like freedom?

Chapter VIII 1. What has Edna said or done that would make Adele worry that she might take Robert’s affections seriously?

2. How does not being a Creole affect Edna? Why is it difficult for outsiders in any society to adjust and fit in?

Chapter IX 1. What is the difference between the way Adele and Mademoiselle Reisz play the piano? How does each one’s style affect Edna?

2. What is the similarity between Edna and the image of the lonely man she conjures up while listening to Adele play?

Chapter X 1. How does learning to swim contribute to Edna’s awakening?

2. What is the significance of Robert’s story about the spirit that haunts the shores and his statement to Edna that tonight the spirit found her?

Chapter XI 1. What are the realities that Edna is talking about when she says she feels again “the realities pressing into her soul”? Why do these realities cause her to go inside?

2. Put yourself in Leonce’s place. Describe your reaction to Edna’s refusal to come inside.

Chapter XII 1. What other examples do we see of Edna’s lack of forethought?

2. How does Edna feel about marriage and romance and why?

Chapter XIII 1. How does the idea of fairy tale fit in with Edna’s awakening and her relationship with Robert?

2. What is Edna’s attitude about food and eating? What does this tell us about her personality?

Chapter XIV 1. Describe Edna’s relationship with her children and why it changes based on her feelings about herself.

2. What are some of the ways Edna has changed already?

Chapter XV 1. Why does Robert feel the need to leave?

2. How does Edna’s realization of her love for Robert contribute to her awakening?

Chapter XVI 1. Describe the gulf that has grown between Edna and Adele. Why doesn’t Adele understand what Edna is telling her?

2. What is considered essential by Edna compared to what would be considered essential by other women of her time?

Chapter XVII 1. What is the real cause of Edna’s anger? Why does she put her wedding ring back on?

2. How does Chopin use natural imagery to help the reader understand Edna’s moods?

Chapter XVIII 1. How is the Ratignolles’ marriage different from the Pontelliers’?

2. What is it about Adele’s and Edna’s marriages that prevents them from knowing “life’s delirium”? Why is Adele content with this while Edna is not?

Chapter XIX 1. Why is Edna’s painting important to her awakening and her sense of independence?

2. What does Edna mean when she says that Adele is not a...

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musician and she is not a painter?

Chapter XX 1. Describe the different influences Adele and Mademoiselle Reisz have upon Edna.

2. Describe the significance of Edna’s bantering with Victor and how Edna has changed since she blushed at Robert’s story in Chapter IV.

Chapter XXI 1. Why does an artist need a courageous soul? Why is it hard for women of that era to have that kind of courage? What is Edna doing to achieve a courageous soul?

2. How does Chopin use music to set the mood? How does the music interact with Edna’s discovery of passion?

Chapter XXII 1. How are Dr. Mandelet’s attitudes toward Edna’s problem similar to Leonce’s attitude?

2. How has Edna’s awakening contributed to her refusal to sleep with her husband? How is this related to her comment that weddings are “one of the most lamentable spectacles on earth”?

Chapter XXIII 1. How does Dr. Mandelet’s description of Edna fit in with her awakening? How does this imagery compare with other natural imagery Chopin uses?

2. Why doesn’t Adele understand Edna’s contentment with Leonce’s spending time away from her?

Chapter XXIV 1. Imagine that you are Edna but are allowed to speak freely. How would you respond to the Colonel’s statement that authority and coercion are needed to manage a wife?

2. Why does Edna walk through the house as if it were the first time? How is the house different for her now?

Chapter XXV 1. How does Edna’s experience at the track compare with other experiences where she felt intoxicated? What is the meaning of this intoxication?

2. Why does Edna allow Alcee to kiss her hand? Why does she then feel like she has been unfaithful?

Chapter XXVI 1. What is the significance of Edna’s moving into her own house? Why is it so important for her to have this physical separation?

2. Why is it that Edna feels more loving toward her children when she feels happy with herself? How do the children affect her desire for independence?

Chapters XXVII and XXVIII 1. Why doesn’t Edna feel shame or regret? In Chapter VI, Chopin talked about wisdom that is usually denied to women. What is Edna learning from being with Alcee, and why is that usually denied to women?

2. Describe the reactions that Leonce, Robert, Mademoiselle Reisz, and Adele would have to Edna’s actions.

Chapter XXIX 1. What does it say about Edna that she is letting Leonce pay the bills for her dinner? Is this consistent with her character so far?

2. What is the significance of Alcee’s walking in the house, unannounced?

Chapter XXX 1. What does Mrs. Highcamp’s behavior tell Edna about her choices in life? Knowing what you know about Edna so far, do you think she would want to stay married to Leonce and have affairs?

2. Why does Chopin take such great pains to describe the splendor of the party? Explain Edna’s sadness.

Chapter XXXI 1. Why does Edna sleep with Alcee when she’s longing for Robert?

2. Explain the irony of the term “pigeon-house.” What makes the new house seem so homey and hospitable, and why is that so important to Edna?

Chapter XXXII 1. What is the significance of Edna’s telling her children the fairies will fix everything all right? What does this say about Edna’s plans for the future?

2. Why is it that to rise on the spiritual scale Edna needs to descend on the social scale? Give examples of both her social descent and her spiritual ascent.

Chapter XXXIII 1. Explain from Robert’s point of view why he hadn’t called on Edna since his return. Compare this with the time they spent together at Grand Isle and explain why he felt freer then.

2. How is Edna different in her new house than in the old one? Why would she not have wanted Robert to know her in the old house?

Chapter XXXIV 1. Why does Edna feel further away from Robert now that he is home?

2. Why does Edna send Alcee away? What is different this night than the night in Chapter XXXI?

Chapter XXXV 1. How do we know Edna is no longer living in the real world? Give examples from earlier in the book that show her lack of understanding or thought about reality.

2. Why have both despondency and hope left Edna after not seeing Robert?

Chapter XXXVI 1. How does Robert’s attitude doom Edna’s plans? Knowing what you know about Robert, would he allow Edna the independence she craves?

2. What would be the likely consequences if Edna decided to openly love Robert?

Chapter XXXVII 1. How would Edna and Adele differently describe childbirth?

2. Why is Adele so worried about Edna’s children? What has she seen, heard or felt that would cause her to question Edna’s commitment to her children?

Chapter XXXVIII 1. How does Nature dupe women into becoming mothers?

2. Describe the central conflict in Edna’s life, and how it would be different if it were the 1990s instead of the 1890s.

Chapter XXXIX 1. Speaking as Edna, describe why you felt you had no choice but to kill yourself.

2. Was Edna’s suicide an act of courage or defeat?


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