The Awakening
The Awakening
by Kate Chopin
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The Awakening Chapter 1 Summary

  • The story begins with a green and yellow parrot on a porch.
  • The parrot shouts at Edna’s husband, Leonce (generally referred to as "Mr. Pontellier"), who is also on the porch.
  • The parrot says, "Get out! Get out! Damn it!" (That’s the English translation. The parrot is shouting in French.)
  • We learn that the parrot belongs to a Madame Lebrun, and thus has the right to make as much noise as it wants.
  • Mr. Pontellier marches off to read his newspaper in peace.
  • He decides to read in his own cottage and settles down on the front porch in a rocking chair.
  • We learn that the paper is a day old, and that Mr. Pontellier was in New Orleans yesterday.
  • Mr. Pontellier is forty-years-old and average-looking.
  • Mr. Pontellier watches several people play croquet, including his two sons, ages four and five.
  • The children’s nanny (described as a "quadroon nurse") follows them around.
  • Mr. Pontellier lights a cigar.
  • He watches a pink and white sunshade (an umbrella that blocks out sun, not rain) approach from the beach.
  • Edna (a.k.a. Mrs. Pontellier) and a handsome young man named Robert Lebrun are underneath the sunshade.
  • Edna and Robert reach the cottage and sit down on the front steps near Mr. Pontellier.
  • Mr. Pontellier says they are burnt beyond recognition – a way of commenting on their burns while at the same time expressing disapproval.
  • Edna silently holds up her hands, examining them for sunburn, then holds them out submissively to Mr. Pontellier so he can place her wedding rings back on them. (She had apparently given them to him earlier for safekeeping.)
  • Robert and Edna begin to giggle. They try telling Mr. Pontellier about their funny adventure on the beach, but it’s one of those "you had to be there" stories.
  • Mr. Pontellier yawns and says he’s off to Klein’s hotel (a men’s club where he hangs out a lot).
  • He asks Robert if he wants to come along.
  • Robert says he’d rather stay (and continue to hit on Edna).
  • Mr. Pontellier tells Edna (passive-aggressively), that she should send Robert away when he begins to bore her.
  • Edna hands her husband the sunshade and he marches off, refusing to tell his wife if he’ll be back for dinner.
  • As Mr. Pontellier walks away, his two sons (named Raoul and Etienne) run after him. They want to go too! Sorry boys, you’re not quite men yet.
  • Mr. Pontellier promises to bring them bonbons and peanuts.

Next Page: Chapter 2
Previous Page: Intro

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