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by Kate Chopin
The Awakening Chapter 4 Summary
Mr. Pontellier feels dissatisfied with Edna’s mothering abilities, although he isn’t quite sure why. The narrator answers this question for him by telling us that Edna is not a "mother-woman." Mother-women, according to the narrator, are women who place their children and husband at the complete center of their lives, and are happy to cater to their every need. One example of this type of woman is Adele Ratignolle, Edna’s good friend. (In the book, Adele is generally referred to as Madame Ratignolle, but we will refer to her mostly as Adele.) Adele and Edna sit together at Edna’s cottage. Adele works on sewing a pair of winter night drawers (like a sleeper suit) for one of her children (she has three kids already and another one on the way). Despite knowing that her kids are well-cared for, Edna pretends an interest in Adele’s work. She cuts out a pattern for the garment, as if she will sew one herself some day. Robert Lebrun – the young guy who has the hots for Edna – is also there, seated on a step. Adele has a difficult time choosing a bonbon from the box Mr. Pontellier sent. She decides on a stick of nougat, but wonders if this is a bad idea in her pregnant state. (Otherwise known as her "condition." Speaking openly of one’s pregnancy was a big no-no back in the day.) Robert starts to assure her and make a joke about a woman who ate nougat throughout her entire pregnancy, but when Edna starts to blush, he stops. We learn some interesting facts about Edna: although she is married to a Creole man, she has never before spent so much time among them. At the Lebrun’s resort in Grand Isle, everyone is Creole. Compared to the Creoles, Edna is extremely uptight, especially about matters regarding sex and reproduction. She is embarrassed, for instance, when Adele describes in detail the delivery of one of her children.
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