The Awakening

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Edna’s close friend and almost-lover, Robert Lebrun is a wealthy, charming twenty-six-year-old man without any apparent occupation besides befriending pretty married women. After spending most of the summer in each other’s company, Edna and Robert develop a strong romantic attachment to one another, and in an effort to protect Edna, Robert flees to Mexico under the pretense of a business opportunity. He is absent during most of the novel except as the idealized, illicit object of Edna’s love. Despite his irreverence and easy humor, Robert ultimately does not have the courage to love Edna without the sanction of marriage.

Robert Lebrun Quotes in The Awakening

The The Awakening quotes below are all either spoken by Robert Lebrun or refer to Robert Lebrun. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Awakening published in 1993.
Chapter 36 Quotes

You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr. Pontellier setting me free! I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, ‘Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,’ I should laugh at you both.

Related Characters: Edna Pontellier (speaker), Robert Lebrun, Léonce Pontellier
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

Having finally kissed Edna, Robert explains that he stayed away from her up until now because she was married, and belonged to another man. Edna, however, scoffs at this sentiment. She explains that she is "no longer one of Mr. Pontellier's possessions," and that she may give herself to Robert if she chooses.

This statement truly exemplifies how far Edna has come from the beginning of the book. As the narrative started, Edna quietly accepted the way that her husband treated her like an object. Now, however, she is even laughing at the man she loves, so absurd is the idea of her belonging to her husband.

Even as readers witness how confident Edna is in her autonomy and her freedom, we also begin to sense that Robert might not be as enlightened as our main character. He still thinks of Edna as bound to another man, and does not seem to understand that she now considers herself entirely her own person, responsible to neither her husband nor her children. 

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It was you who awoke me last summer out of a life-long, stupid dream.

Related Characters: Edna Pontellier (speaker), Robert Lebrun
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

Edna attempts to explain her awakening to Robert, stating that spending time with him made her understand that her life until then had been a "stupid dream." Loving Robert, she implies, was the first desire she ever experienced that was for herself, rather than because society told her to want something. This experience of selfish and uncontrollable desire made her realize that, up until this point, she had suppressed her wishes and impulses in favor of others' expectations and beliefs.

Edna also continues the theme of her life as a wife and mother as a kind of "dream." She has moved so far away from her prior personality that she can now hardly view her past experiences as real. She condemns them, too, calling them "stupid," exemplifying just how much contempt and hatred she feels for the person she once was, and the life she once lived. 

Chapter 39 Quotes

There was no one thing in the world that she desired. There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone. The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days. But she knew a way to elude them.

Related Characters: Edna Pontellier, Robert Lebrun, Etienne and Raoul Pontellier
Related Symbols: The Sea
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

Despairing and alone, abandoned by Robert and unwilling to return to her family, Edna swims out to sea, where she will soon die. As she comes to her decision, she thinks about Robert—her final link to the world—and realizes that one day she will forget even him. Remembering her children and her love for them, she realizes that returning to them would "drag" her back into a "slavery" to them.

At this moment, Edna truly believes that she has no remaining human connections, and no other choice. She does not love her husband; the man she loves has left her; and although she loves her children, resuming her role as a mother would mean erasing the new self that she has found. Confronted with either eternal emptiness or unending obligation, Edna instead chooses the ultimate freedom: death. In so doing, she will escape the aimless, free life that she has led, while also "elud[ing]" a life spent in devotion to others. 

By presenting these equally hopeless options, the narrator makes clear how the society in which Edna exists has, essentially, killed her. It has made her equally unable to be free and to be tethered. Detached as she is from humanity, and empty as her life is without her lover or her children, she has no other option but to die. 

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Robert Lebrun Character Timeline in The Awakening

The timeline below shows where the character Robert Lebrun appears in The Awakening. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
As he smokes a cigar, Pontellier watches his wife and Robert Lebrun walking towards him from the beach. When they reach him, he reproaches his wife... (full context)
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
...to Klein’s, a nearby hotel, to play billiards and perhaps to eat dinner. He invites Robert, but the young man declines in favor of Mrs. Pontellier’s company. (full context)
Chapter 2
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
...yellow-brown hair and eyes, which are inward-looking and contemplative. She is lovely and reserved, while Robert is bright and carefree; they are similar in appearance. She and Robert talk easily about... (full context)
Chapter 4
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
...arrives. Mrs. Pontellier takes up some sewing as well, though it doesn’t much interest her; Robert watches them idly. We learn from the narrator that Mrs. Pontellier had never spent much... (full context)
Chapter 5
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
As Madame Ratignolle sews, Robert and Mrs. Pontellier chat intimately. Robert has been spending a great deal of time with... (full context)
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Robert compliments her drawing, but Mrs. Pontellier does not think much of it. He tries to... (full context)
Chapter 6
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
Edna Pontellier wonders why she followed Robert to the beach, though she had not wanted to go. She is beginning to become... (full context)
Chapter 7
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
...and she loves her children only intermittently. Edna confesses most of this to Madame Ratignolle. Robert and the children approach them; Madame Ratignolle leaves the beach with Robert. (full context)
Chapter 8
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
On their way from the beach, Madame Ratignolle asks Robert to keep away from Mrs. Pontellier, who, she says, might take his attentions too seriously.... (full context)
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
Robert calls down to the street to his impetuous younger brother Victor, who rides away without... (full context)
Chapter 9
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
...Pontellier dances for a while and then retreats to the windowsill to observe the party. Robert offers to ask Mademoiselle Reisz, a talented musician and a cantankerous spinster, to play the... (full context)
Chapter 10
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
Robert convinces the party to go to the beach. The women walk with their husbands, and... (full context)
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
Robert joins her; Edna describes her overwhelming response to the music and her estrangement from the... (full context)
Chapter 12
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
...morning, when others are sleeping or in church, she sends a servant girl to get Robert—a liberty she had never taken before. They eat a quick breakfast and go to mass... (full context)
Chapter 13
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Edna grows very tired and weak during the service, so she and Robert leave the church and go to rest in the house of Madame Antoine, a Creole... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
When she comes home that night with Robert, Edna takes Etienne and Raoul from Madame Ratignolle, who had been watching them, and helps... (full context)
Chapter 15
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
Later still, Robert comes to tell Edna goodbye. Edna talks to him with irritation; he stammers and promises... (full context)
Chapter 16
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
...walks to the beach one morning with Mademoiselle Reisz, Edna reflects on her response to Robert’s sudden departure. She thinks of him all the time, and feels disinterested in the life... (full context)
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
She talks to Mademoiselle Reisz about Robert on their way to the beach. Edna says that Madame Lebrun must miss her son,... (full context)
Chapter 18
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 20
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
...Madame Lebrun’s entrance happily interrupts the story. Victor recites the two letters they’d received from Robert: they are factual and spare. Edna despairs to hear that he didn’t include any message... (full context)
Chapter 21
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
...Edna would accept her invitation. When Edna learns that Mlle Reisz has a letter from Robert, she convinces the older woman to let her read it. The letter mentions her very... (full context)
Chapter 26
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
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Realism and Romanticism Theme Icon
As usual, Edna reads the most recent letter from Robert while Mademoiselle Reisz plays piano. Robert does not know that Edna sees his letters; Mademoiselle... (full context)
Chapter 28
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
...her husband in the form of the house around her, and by her love for Robert. The kiss makes her see the world very vividly; her only regret is that this... (full context)
Chapter 33
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Women’s Rights, Femininity, and Motherhood Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
While Edna waits for Mademoiselle Reisz, she plays a song on the piano. Suddenly, Robert comes in. She is dismayed to hear that he has been back in New Orleans... (full context)
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Action and Reflection Theme Icon
Robert walks Edna home. He refuses her invitation to dinner, but decides to stay when he... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
Edna and Robert talk pleasantly over dinner. Edna asks jealously about an embroidered tobacco pouch Robert had received... (full context)
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
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...and ignores his flirtations. After he leaves, she thinks sadly of her incomplete reunion with Robert. (full context)
Chapter 35
...a renewed cheerfulness the next morning, and thinks with pleasure of her future friendship with Robert. She receives letters from her son, her husband, and Arobin. She answers her husband, who... (full context)
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Action and Reflection Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
She is sad that Robert does not come to see her that day, nor any other day. She always hopes... (full context)
Chapter 36
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
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...usually run into friends there, she looks up from her book one afternoon to see Robert. He seems uncomfortable, but she invites him to share her dinner. Edna presses him to... (full context)
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Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
Robert walks Edna home. They come in without a word. Edna leaves for a moment; when... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Robert is not waiting for her at home. She does find a note from him: it... (full context)
Chapter 39
Convention and Individuality Theme Icon
Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
...Isle and telling Mariequita about Edna’s glamorous party. She becomes jealous of Edna, and tells Robert haughtily that she could have many other lovers if she wanted to; Victor’s passionate and... (full context)
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Freedom and Emptiness Theme Icon
After Robert left that night, Edna sat up thinking about her indifference for the people around her;... (full context)