Study Guide

The Awakening Chapter 39

By Kate Chopin

Chapter 39

  • Victor and Mariequita are hanging out. Victor is describing, for the umpteenth time, Edna’s final farewell dinner.
  • Edna shows up alone.
  • We learn that she spent all night thinking, concluding that no one can understand how she feels.
  • She cares about only Robert, and she cannot have him.
  • The only thing she feels worried about and regretful over are her children, but she doesn’t know if even they have the right to control what she does with her life.
  • She feels depressed and the feeling will not leave her.
  • When Edna shows up, Mariequita stares at her in amazement because Mariequita is jealous of Victor’s infatuation with Edna.
  • After observing Victor’s genuine surprise at seeing Edna, Mariequita realizes that he had no idea she was coming.
  • Victor and Mariequita go inside to prepare dinner.
  • Edna walks down to the beach to swim, even though Victor and Mariequita have both indicated that the water is too cold.
  • Still, she goes ahead with her plan.
  • She changes into her bathing suit.
  • As she stands on the desolate beach, Edna realizes: hey, why not go skinny dipping?
  • She takes off her bathing suit.
  • A bird with a broken wing flutters above, recalling Mademoiselle Reisz’s words to Edna about strength and courage.
  • Edna feels lacking in strength and courage.
  • The water coils around her ankles.
  • Edna walks out into the sea and begins to swim.
  • She begins to be afraid, but goes on and on anyway.
  • Her arms and legs grow tired, and she thinks of Mr. Pontellier and the children.
  • She thinks of them as part of her life, but as having no particular claim over her.
  • Exhaustion hits her.
  • She thinks of Robert’s note. Even he did not understand.
  • Doctor Mandelet might have understood, she thinks, but it is too late.
  • The shore is far behind her now and her strength is gone.
  • She is afraid, but the fear shortly dies down.
  • Childhood memories pass through her mind as she (presumably) drowns.