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Ah, Robert, you good-looking lover of married women. What do we have to say about you? Let’s see…Robert is handsome, charming, and seems to have fallen in love with the beautiful Edna Pontellier. That’s Mrs. Pontellier to Robert, a fact of which he is all too aware. Unwilling to further his relationship with a married woman, Robert leaves the country for Mexico, where he plans to make his fortune. This is our first clue that Robert is much more traditional than Edna. Or Alcee Arobin. (Our second clue is Robert’s purchase of an entire box of cigars.) Upon his return, Robert and Edna finally declare their love for each other, but their happiness is cut short when they realize they want different things: Robert wants marriage while Edna wants independence.
Edna doesn’t even get a proper break-up with her lover. "Good-bye – because I love you"? What was Robert trying to say? Was he respecting her independence, realizing that she would never agree to be his wife? Or did he know he would be tempted to have an Arobin-style love affair with Edna, and didn’t want to go down that path? Or did Edna’s rejection of marriage turn him off, and his note was an avoidance mechanism?