Back home in New Orleans, the Pontelliers live in a very expensive and refined home, where Mrs. Pontellier usually receives callers on Tuesday. One Tuesday, however, Pontellier notices that Edna is not wearing her usual Tuesday dress, but an ordinary housedress; she informs her husband that she went out for the day instead of receiving callers. Pontellier asks her to fulfill her social obligations and complains about the quality of the dinner. He storms out to eat dinner at the club.
Edna start to ignore social conventions like visiting days in more overt, pointed ways. Her evasions had been blurry and intuitive; now, she consciously disregards social rules in order to prioritize her own preferences and beliefs and to live more freely. Her husband reacts with anger and incomprehension. Society does not understand or countenance such behavior.
Another night, Edna might have gone in and reproached the cook; tonight, she simply finishes the meal and goes to think in her own room. The murky, flowery atmosphere helps her think. She grows upset, tears apart a handkerchief, and stamps on her wedding ring - but the ring remains intact, so she throws a vase. She puts the ring back on with resignation.
One after another, Edna breaks old habits and begins to find her own way. But despite her relative freedom of action, she is helpless against her small but intractable marriage ring, which also stands in for the rules of society at large.