by Kate Chopin
The Awakening Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Mrs. Pontellier had brought her sketching materials, which she sometimes dabbled with in an un-professional way. She liked the dabbling. She felt in it a satisfaction of a kind which no other employment afforded her. (5.12)
Edna finds satisfaction in art that she can’t find elsewhere; this activity is solely her own and pursued for no purpose other than enjoyment.
Edna was what she herself called very fond of music. Musical strains, well rendered, had a way of evoking pictures in her mind. She sometimes liked to sit in the room of mornings when Madame Ratignolle played or practiced. One piece which that lady played Edna had entitled "Solitude." It was a short, plaintive, minor strain. The name of the piece was something else, but she called it "Solitude." When she heard it there came before her imagination the figure of a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore. He was naked. His attitude was one of hopeless resignation as he looked toward a distant bird winging its flight away from him.
Another piece called to her mind a dainty young woman clad in an Empire gown, taking mincing dancing steps as she came down a long avenue between tall hedges. Again, another reminded her of children at play, and still another of nothing on earth but a demure lady stroking a cat.
The very first chords which Mademoiselle Reisz struck upon the piano sent a keen tremor down Mrs. Pontellier's spinal column. It was not the first time she had heard an artist at the piano. Perhaps it was the first time she was ready, perhaps the first time her being was tempered to take an impress of the abiding truth.
She waited for the material pictures which she thought would gather and blaze before her imagination. She waited in vain. She saw no pictures of solitude, of hope, of longing, or of despair. But the very passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it, as the waves daily beat upon her splendid body. She trembled, she was choking, and the tears blinded her. (9.18 – 9.21)
Mademoiselle Reisz’s piano playing takes Edna on a deeply emotional journey as it unleashes Edna’s inner passions.
"You are the only one worth playing for. Those others? Bah!" and she went shuffling and sidling on down the gallery toward her room.
But she was mistaken about "those others." Her playing had aroused a fever of enthusiasm. "What passion!" "What an artist!" "I have always said no one could play Chopin like Mademoiselle Reisz!" "That last prelude! Bon Dieu! It shakes a man!" (9.24-25)
Mademoiselle Reisz considers Edna to be the only audience member worth playing for because Edna recognizes the artistry in Mademoiselle Reisz’s work.