The Awakening
The Awakening
by Kate Chopin

Edna Pontellier Timeline and Summary

  • Edna walks up from the beach with Robert. The two of them are under a giant umbrella.
  • Edna examines her hands for sunburn, and then holds them out so that her husband can put her ring back on.
  • Edna and Robert talk about their fun afternoon at the beach.
  • Edna gives her husband the umbrella as he leaves for his club.
  • She asks if he will be back for dinner, but he doesn’t answer.
  • Edna fans herself while Robert smokes.
  • Edna reminisces about her girlhood home in Kentucky.
  • Edna reads a letter from her sister out loud, which reveals that the sister is engaged to be married.
  • Edna states that she doesn’t think her husband is coming home for dinner and she goes inside her cottage.
  • When her husband finally comes home from the club, he keeps trying to talk to Edna, although she’s clearly very sleepy.
  • Her husband insists that she check on the children.
  • She does so, and after her husband goes to bed, Edna goes out onto the porch and cries.
  • After her husband leaves for New Orleans, Edna receives a box of candy and fruit and wine from him.
  • She shares the treats with everyone at Grand Isle.
  • Edna agrees with the other women that she doesn’t know of any better husband than her own.
  • Edna and Adele sit together at Edna’s cottage while Adele sews clothes for her children.
  • Edna cuts out a pattern, but isn’t really interested in sewing any clothes herself.
  • Edna sits on the steps of her cottage eating bonbons with Adele and Robert.
  • Edna gets up to work on a sketch.
  • Edna tries to draw a picture of Adele, but she doesn’t like the way it turns out and crumples it up.
  • When Adele leaves, Edna watches her walk away in her beautiful white dress.
  • Edna tells Robert she doesn’t want to go swimming, but when he keeps trying to persuade her, she goes along with him to the beach.
  • Edna is changing, beginning to realize herself as a human being.
  • Edna and Adele go to the beach together.
  • Edna opens the collar of her dress and fans herself.
  • Edna remembers when she was a child walking through a field of grass on a summer day. She tells Adele that it felt like swimming.
  • When Adele strokes Edna’s hand, Edna remembers the three men she was infatuated with as a young girl.
  • Edna reflects on the fact that there is no passion between herself and her husband. She tells Adele this and then feels a little shocked at her own openness.
  • Edna goes to a party at Madame Lebrun’s house.
  • Edna dances with her husband, with Robert, and with Adele’s husband.
  • Edna goes out onto the porch and Robert follows her.
  • Edna cries when Mademoiselle Reisz plays Chopin on the piano.
  • After the party, Robert proposes a night swim. Everyone agrees.
  • Edna swims successfully for the first time.
  • She swims far out and briefly feels afraid, but manages to swim back to shore.
  • Edna gets dressed and heads back to her cottage.
  • Edna talks to Robert, who has once again followed her.
  • Edna lies down in the hammock outside her cottage. Robert sits beside her.
  • Neither of them makes a move, so Robert eventually leaves.
  • When her husband comes home, Edna refuses to obey his repeated requests to go inside. He gives up.
  • After some time, Edna finally gets off the hammock and goes inside.
  • Edna sends for Robert and they go together on a boat to Cheniere.
  • On the boat, she and Robert talk about what they would like to do together the next day, and the day after that.
  • Edna gets off the boat with Robert and they go together to mass.
  • Edna begins feeling faint during the service. She leaves with Robert.
  • The two go to Madame Antoine’s house, where Edna rests on the bed. She sleeps for a long time.
  • When she wakes up, Edna goes in search of Robert.
  • The two of them sit outside listening to Madame Antoine tell stories.
  • When the moon comes up, Edna and Robert get into Tonie’s boat and head for home.
  • Edna goes to Adele’s cottage to retrieve her children.
  • Edna makes sure her children sleeping, and then goes outside to say good-bye to Robert.
  • Edna waits outside for her husband to return and reflects on the fact that this summer feels different from other summers. She realizes that it is she who is different.
  • Edna wishes Robert were still with her and sings the song that Robert was singing earlier, "If you knew."
  • One evening, Edna eats dinner at Madame Lebrun’s house and is shocked to learn that Robert is leaving for Mexico that very evening.
  • Edna goes back to her cottage, puts her children to bed, and then begins undressing.
  • She refuses to go back to the dinner party when Adele asks.
  • Edna talks to Robert when he comes to the cottage to see if she is all right. She questions is upcoming departure, but he offers no explanation.
  • Edna realizes after he leaves that she is infatuated with him.
  • Edna is lonely without Robert around. She spends a lot of time swimming and hanging around Madame Lebrun in the hopes of hearing news of Robert.
  • Edna feels jealous when Madame Lebrun shows her a letter she has received from Robert.
  • Edna talks to Adele about how she cannot give up the essential parts of herself for anyone, even her children.
  • Edna goes swimming again.
  • Edna talks to Mademoiselle Reisz at the beach.
  • Back home in New Orleans, Edna goes out on the day she usually stays home to receive visitors.
  • Edna tells her husband that she just felt like it.
  • He gets really, really angry that she’s flouting social convention. It’s going to hurt his business.
  • After criticizing dinner, he leaves to go to the club.
  • After she finishes eating, Edna goes to her room. She flings her wedding ring on the floor and stamps on it, but it seems indestructible.
  • Edna smashes a glass vase on the hearth.
  • Edna allows the maid to return her ring to her and she puts it back on her finger.
  • Edna refuses to go with her husband to pick out new furnishings for the library.
  • Edna gathers her sketches together and goes to Adele’s house.
  • Edna stays to eat dinner with Adele and her husband.
  • Edna observes their contentment with each other, but finds it rather boring and colorless.
  • Edna completely abandons her typical duties and instead devotes her time to painting.
  • Edna wants to visit Mademoiselle Reisz, but can’t find her house.
  • Edna goes to Madame Lebrun’s house to ask for the address.
  • While there, Edna flirts with Victor, Robert’s younger brother.
  • Edna goes to Mademoiselle Reisz’s house, where she learns Robert has sent a letter. This letter, moreover, talks only of Edna.
  • As she listens to Mademoiselle Reisz play the piano, Edna reads the letter. She cries.
  • Edna asks Mademoiselle Reisz if she can visit again and Mademoiselle Reisz says yes
  • Edna’s father, a retired colonel, comes to visit. Edna must entertain him.
  • The two go to the horse races, where they meet up with Alcee Arobin and a woman named Mrs. Highcamp.
  • Edna has a good time at the racetrack and when she eats dinner later with her husband, her father, and Doctor Mandelet, she seems flushed and happy.
  • Edna and her father argue over her refusal to attend her sister’s wedding.
  • Edna is glad when her father finally leaves.
  • Edna feels slightly sad when her husband leaves for a long trip to New York, and her children have been taken to Iberville to stay with their grandmother, but once they are all gone, she feels peaceful and happy.
  • Edna eats dinner alone, reads, then takes a bath and goes to bed. She still feels peaceful.
  • Now that she has the house to herself, Edna works on her paintings or goes out with her Grand Isle friends. She also goes to the races with Arobin.
  • One day after the races, Edna stays to eat dinner with Arobin and Mrs. Highcamp. Afterwards, Arobin drives her home.
  • The next time they go to the races, Edna and Arobin go alone, without Mrs. Highcamp.
  • After the races, Edna and Arobin eat dinner together again.
  • Later, Arobin passionately kisses her hand.
  • Edna goes to bed feeling drugged by Arobin’s touch upon her hand, even though she knows he means nothing to her.
  • Edna continues to work on her paintings. Arobin comes over almost every day.
  • Edna visits Mademoiselle Reisz again to quiet her nerves.
  • Edna tells Mademoiselle Reisz about her decision to move into a smaller house.
  • She explains her decision by saying that she no longer feels any allegiance to her husband, so it doesn’t feel right to live off his money. She wants to be an independent woman.
  • Edna decides to throw a farewell dinner party.
  • When she invites Mademoiselle Reisz, she learns that Robert has sent another letter. Mademoiselle Reisz tells Edna that the reason Robert writes to her, instead of to Edna, is that he loves her (Edna) and is trying to forget her, since she is not free to belong to him.
  • This latest letter says that Robert is coming home. Edna can’t believe it.
  • Edna tries to explain to Mademoiselle Reisz why she loves Robert.
  • On Edna’s way home from Mademoiselle Reisz’s house, Edna is feeling happy.
  • She orders a huge box of bonbons for her children in Iberville.
  • When Edna arrives home, she writes a charming and cheerful letter to her husband, telling him of her intention of moving into a small house around the corner, and that she plans to give a farewell dinner before she leaves.
  • Edna is still feeling happy when Arobin comes over that evening.
  • Edna is wondering what kind of woman she is. She says, in essence, that according to society, she’s a bad woman, but that somehow, she can’t convince herself that that is true.
  • Edna remembers Mademoiselle Reisz telling her about soaring above tradition and prejudice.
  • Arobin says that Mademoiselle Reisz is crazy, but Edna says she thinks Mademoiselle Reisz to be wonderfully sane.
  • Edna and Arobin kiss passionately.
  • After Arobin leaves (after they have sex) Edna is flooded with a variety of emotions. She feels a little regretful because her first truly passionate experience had been with a man (Arobin), for whom she feels no real love.
  • Edna starts packing to move into her new small house. She packs as quickly as she can, and is in the process of taking a picture off the wall when Arobin comes over.
  • Edna’s dinner turns out to be a small affair with no more than ten guests.
  • Edna admits that it is her twenty-ninth birthday, and they all admire the diamonds that her husband has sent and which she is wearing in her hair.
  • Edna and her guests chatter happily, but as the evening progresses, Edna feels dread and depression coming over her.
  • The guests leave and Edna is left alone with Arobin.
  • Edna locks the doors of the big house, and Arobin walks with her to her new, small house (she calls it the "pigeon house"), which is just around the corner.
  • Edna and Arobin have sex again.
  • Edna likes living in the small house and after several days there, she feels happier and decides to go visit her children in Iberville.
  • Edna has a wonderful time with her children, and she tells them about the new small house.
  • After a week, Edna goes back home, and by the time she reaches home, she feels alone again.
  • Edna goes to visit Mademoiselle Reisz, but when she arrives at the house, no one is home. She knows where the key is kept, however, so she lets herself inside to wait.
  • As she waits, Edna reflects upon her promise to Adele, who is going to give birth any day now. Edna promised to be with Adele during the delivery.
  • Edna sits at Mademoiselle Reisz’s house, waiting, and soon someone knocks on the door. It is Robert.
  • Robert admits that he’s been home since the day before yesterday and Edna wonders, with a pang, why he didn’t come to see her.
  • Edna asks him why he didn’t write to her while he was gone and he says he didn’t think his letters would be of any interest.
  • Edna gets up to leave.
  • Robert walks her home, and when they get to the house, Edna invites him to stay for dinner.
  • Edna and Robert talk briefly about what they’ve been doing since they last saw each other, then sit quietly together until dinner is ready.
  • Edna and Robert eat dinner together.
  • Edna feels jealous over an embroidered tobacco pouch that a woman in Mexico made for Robert.
  • When Arobin drops by, Robert leaves. After, Edna insists that Arobin leave also.
  • In the morning, Edna tries to convince herself that things are better (or will be better) with Robert than they were the night before.
  • Edna receives three letters: one from her son Raoul, one from her husband saying he will be back in early March, and a note from Arobin, assuring her of his devotion.
  • Edna answers her husband’s note and puts Arobin’s note under the stove lid.
  • Edna is very disappointed when Robert does not come that day or the following day or the next.
  • Edna eats dinner at a small restaurant.
  • Robert walks in.
  • Edna convinces him to share her dinner.
  • After they eat, Robert walks Edna home and goes inside her house with her.
  • Edna kisses him.
  • He kisses back.
  • The two proclaim their love for each other.
  • At this horribly inopportune moment, Adele enters into labor.
  • Edna makes Robert promise that he will stay there and wait for her until she comes back.
  • Edna goes to Adele’s house and attends her as she gives birth.
  • Edna begins to feel uneasy remembering her own experiences with childbirth, and she thinks sadly of all the people that die.
  • Edna stays with Adele, and then finally, when it’s over, says good-bye and kisses Adele on the forehead.
  • Adele tells her to remember the children.
  • Edna and the doctor walk home together.
  • They talk about how she’s feeling.
  • At home again, Edna lets herself inside, expecting to see Robert waiting in the parlor, but he is not there. Instead, there is a note saying, "I love you. Good-bye – because I love you."
  • Edna grows faint when she reads it. She lies down on the couch and is still lying there, awake, when in the morning, Celestine comes in to light the fire.
  • Edna goes back to Grand Isle alone. Her feeling of depression persists.
  • Edna talks to Victor and Mariequita, and then goes down to the beach for a swim.
  • Edna changes into her bathing suit, but later strips when she realizes the beach is deserted.
  • Edna swims out into the sea.
  • She starts being afraid, but swims onward determinedly.
  • Edna reflects that no one understands her except maybe Doctor Mandelet, but now it’s too late to talk to him. She is far from shore and too tired to swim back.
  • Edna thinks about her childhood as she gives herself over to the embrace of the sea.

Next Page: Robert Lebrun Timeline

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