An Analysis of The Awakening Chapter
In chapter fifteen, it is revealed that Robert decided to go on a trip to Mexico and is leaving that night. Edna is both shocked by the sudden news and the fact that Robert failed to tell her the decision himself. When Edna and Robert finally have a conversation about Robert’s sudden trip to Mexico, Robert avoids giving his reasoning and shows very little emotion when speaking to Edna. Robert’s distant behavior bothers Edna, and she sulks in the darkness after he leaves.
In the beginning of the passage, Edna tries to get Robert to tell her when he is coming back – or if he is even coming back at all. Robert avoids the question and fails to give Edna a definite answer. Chopin’s repetition of the words how long by Edna emphasizes Edna’s persistence to get an answer out of Robert. The persistence conveys both Edna’s feeling of worry that Robert will be gone long, but hope that he will not be. Edna repeating her question to Robert is her way of subtly asking Robert for some type of reassurance that he will come back. On the other hand, Chopin’s repetition of the vague phrase I don’t know implies that Robert is avoiding answering Edna’s question. Robert’s repetitive avoidance of the question after Edna asks it twice unveils that he is attempting to create a divide between himself and Edna by following society’s traditions. Edna is straying away from society’s traditions and is attempting to keep the bond she has with Robert, though it may be frowned upon.
Once Robert ignores Edna’s request for a definite answer, Edna calls Robert out on his distant behavior. Chopin’s strategy of Edna repeating Robert’s statement that neither wants to part in any ill humor emphasizes that, while both are taking different sides when it comes to society’s traditional rules, they both still try to think highly of each other. Neither wants to separate on a bad note. Chopin then has Edna reinforce a recurring theme that she’s grown used to seeing and having Robert with her more often, which is why she is upset with his departure. Chopin included this line to explain that Edna is having trouble separating from Robert on a good note because he offers her no reason as to why he is being unfriendly and unkind with her. Edna is confused as to why Robert is suddenly distant with her and she just wants an answer.
In the last few paragraphs, Roberts’s repetition of Good-by along with him addressing Edna as my dear Mrs. Pontellier hints that Robert is attempting to follow society’s rules and traditions, but isn’t fully assimilated into society trends. The repetition of Good-by reiterated the previous notion that Robert is distant with Edna to try and blend in with society. He is devoid of emotion with her, which is unusual since they have been spending almost every day together, and even addressed her formally by calling her Mrs. Pontellier instead of Edna. The one reason it can be inferred that Robert isn’t fully assimilated into society’s rules is when he called Edna my dear before addressing her formally. That phrase is Robert’s only form of feeling and affection towards Edna. In turn, Edna addresses Robert by his first name and even asks him to write to her, which emphasizes Edna trying to cling on to their relationship. The entire passage emphasizes Edna and Robert’s odd goodbye, and highlights that they both feel differently about society’s rules and influences on eachother.
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