The Awakening

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The Awakening Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Edna’s father, referred to as the Colonel, comes to New Orleans to buy a wedding present for his other daughter Janet. Edna enjoys spending time with him; she sketches him, they attend a musical party at the Ratignolles’, and they bet at the races.
We finally learn a little bit about Edna’s past and family life. Perhaps Edna enjoys her father’s company because with him she is neither a wife nor a mother—she can take part in more masculine activities, like betting and painting.
Themes
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
When Doctor Mandelet pays them a visit, he finds Edna in a very good mood: she seems free and easy. The Pontelliers, the Colonel, and the doctor have a very pleasant dinner. They all tell stories; the doctor describes a woman that has an extramarital affair but eventually returns to her husband, and Edna makes up a story about two lovers that got lost at sea. The doctor assumes Edna is in love with another man.
It seems odd to us that the Colonel’s visit would cause such a change in Edna’s disposition. The elusive freedom and satisfaction she seeks is so mysterious to her, and so difficult to define, that she picks up traces of it in many different situations.
Themes
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon