The Awakening

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The Awakening Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Pontellier asks Edna to help him pick out some new fixtures for the house, but she declines. She watches the children playing absent-mindedly; everything around her seems indifferent and strange. She considers speaking to the cook again about the flawed dinner, but instead she takes up some of her old drawings and looks at them critically.
Edna begins to reject familial obligations along with social ones. She realizes that she does not care much about household details, and she is not absorbed by her children. Her choice of painting over taking care of her home and children is small but pivotal.
Themes
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
Since she is not in the mood to draw, Edna leaves the house to visit Madame Ratignolle. As on most occasions, she thinks a great deal about Robert. When she reaches her friend’s house, Edna asks Madame Ratignolle for her opinion of Edna’s sketches, though she knows that opinion will be neither objective nor well-informed. Madame Ratignolle praises the sketches effusively, and Edna gives her most of them. She eats lunch with husband and wife, who are incredibly harmonious in all matters. Their harmony repels and depresses her.
Edna values her individual perspective more than the opinions of others—especially Madame Ratignolle’s, who is an embodiment of general social attitudes. Edna’s growing respect for her own values and opinions is an important part of her awakening. In this process, she also becomes much more honest with herself: she acknowledges that conventional marriage disgusts her.
Themes
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon