One evening, Edna comes into the dining room to find a noisy discussion: the vacationers are talking about Robert’s sudden decision to leave immediately for Mexico. He had not mentioned it to Edna, and avoids her eyes with embarrassment. He explains that he had always planned to try his luck in Mexico, and that a family friend invited him to come post-haste. Guests give him various kinds of advice.
Though it seemed that Robert would accompany Edna on her frightening and exciting project of rule-breaking and self-knowledge, here he clearly retreats. He had been reticent at times before, but his sudden departure makes it clear that he has decided not to join her - he is too firmly rooted in realism and convention.
Edna quickly finishes her dinner and returns to her cottage. She tidies and fusses, changes into casual evening clothes, and helps put the children to bed. A servant girl brings an invitation from the Lebruns, but Edna declines for now. Outside, she complains to Madame Ratignolle about Robert’s dramatic decision; her friend leaves to say goodbye to Robert soon after.
Edna does not fully understand the confusion and disappointment she evinces in her behavior. Though this indicates a sort of repression, an evasion of feeling, it is also a new kind of freedom: her actions derive spontaneously from her feelings, rather than from social expectations.
Later still, Robert comes to tell Edna goodbye. Edna talks to him with irritation; he stammers and promises to write her. She cries to see him go. She realizes that she has feelings for him, and dreads her slightly emptied future.
We see the rift between Edna and Robert begin to grow. She ignores propriety and shows her sadness; he tries to fit the moment into a conventional model of friendly goodbyes.