Edna goes to see Madame Ratignolle, who, it turns out, is about to give birth; she is tired and inconsolable. Finally Doctor Mandelet arrives. As she watches Madame Ratignolle’s suffering, Edna vaguely remembers her own experience giving birth, which was strange and dispiriting. She watches the birth take place with terror. Nature itself seems cruel and oppressive.
We have seen Edna react with discomfort and vague suspicion to motherhood, and we’ve heard her admit her own ambivalent feelings toward her children and toward motherhood itself. That unease sharpens suddenly into terror and disgust. Motherhood seems like a strange illness, a bondage to nature.