Chapters 1-3 Notes from The Awakening

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The Awakening Chapters 1-3

A green and yellow parrot sings in the background in French and a little Spanish, giving the Lebrun cottages outside New Orleans in the small community of Grande Isle a relaxing atmosphere. Mr. Pontellier looks over the old newspaper with frustration at his present rural, non-business environment.

"Mr. Pontellier wore eye-glasses. He was a man of forty, of medium height and rather slender build; he stooped a little. His hair was brown and straight, parted on one side. His beard was neatly and closely trimmed." Chapter 1, pg. 2

Mr. Pontellier looks around at his surroundings. He sees Madame Lebrun running around giving orders to her servants, people going to Sunday church, and his well-groomed young sons of ages four and five. He looks to the sunlight on the beach and sees his wife, Mrs. Pontellier, and young Robert Lebrun. He cannot understand why they have chosen to bathe at such an hour with the heat and looks at his wife from afar "as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage" Chapter 1, pg. 3. Edna and Robert joke about her rings, leaving her husband confused and frustrated. He cannot understand why Robert would rather stay and chat with Edna than do anything else. He leaves, perhaps to play billiards at the local hotel, Klein's. His two sons obediently follow him.

Topic Tracking: Water/Beach 1
Topic Tracking: Feminism, Femininity and Independence 1

Mrs. Pontellier (Edna) and Robert continue to talk about everything from the locals who attend Cheniere (church) to his intent to go to Mexico to find his fortune. Edna's eyes are described as bright and quick, with the intense coloring of yellowish-brown, which matches her hair. Her eyebrows are slightly darker than her hair, giving her a handsome, rather than beautiful, appearance. Robert, on the other hand, is a clean-shaven young man with the countenance of a bohemian - without a care in the world. He smokes cigarettes because he cannot afford cigars. Roberts works in New Orleans as a clerk and is visiting his mother in Grand Isle. They speak of their youth, their past, their dreams, and their relationships. Edna reads aloud a letter from her sister, Janet, who currently lives in the East and is engaged to be married. Robert is intrigued by these two sisters and their mannerisms and intentions. The two finish their conversation to prepare for dinner. Edna wonders where her husband, Leonce, is, and if he will steal away from the game playing at Klein's for a short enough time to see her. Her two children seem to enjoy Robert's company.

Mr. Leonce Pontellier comes home at eleven o'clock at night delighted with his evening of games, spirits, and winnings. He is extremely talkative and cannot understand why his wife cares so little about his night. He goes into the boys' room to see them sleeping and believes Raoul to have a fever. When Edna explains that they are perfectly healthy and happy, he erupts with anger, blaming her for being inattentive and a bad mother. "He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not a mother's place to look after children, whose on earth was it?" Chapter 3, pg. 7. Edna storms out of the room, ignoring Leonce's words, and begins to cry mercilessly. She cannot explain why her crying does not stop, for she understands that it is common in marriage. She feels an indescribable oppression come over her and allows herself to cry alone, with mosquitoes biting her entire body.

Topic Tracking: Feminism, Femininity and Independence 2

The following morning, Leonce awakens early - and in good spirits - to return to the city and Carondelet Street for work. He will not return to the cottages until the next Saturday. He gives Edna the money from Klein's and leaves. Within several days, Edna receives a package of fruits and candies from Leonce, garnering an anonymous outpouring of praise for the supposed best husband in the world - Leonce.

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