The Awakening Chapters 31-33
Alcee Arobin helps Edna clean up and finish the dinner. He talks her arm and walks her to the pigeon house, for her new home. When they arrive, flowers are carefully displayed throughout the main room, to his command and placed by Celestine. Edna is exhausted from all her work from the past several days, claiming that her dinner party was silly. Alcee comforts her with kind words and soft caresses. She tells him, goodnight. "He did not answer, except to continue to caress her. He did not say good night until she had become supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties" Chapter 31, pg. 123.
When Mr. Pontellier learns of his wife's departure from the house on Esplanade Street, he is angered and frustrated. He is more worried about appearances and his financial status that the actual decomposition of his marriage. He worries that the impending notoriety may detract from his business. In short time, he hires artisans to renovate the Esplanade house and publishes an article in the newspaper stating that their house is under construction and is uninhabitable while the couple takes a sojourn to Europe. He successfully saves face while still out of town.
Edna begins to feel comfortable, strong, and independent in the pigeon house. Although it is small, it allows her to see the world and her life through her own eyes, and she adores this new capability. She visits her children in Iberville, who are staying with their grandmother. She revels in this opportunity to spend time in the countryside, in a different life, telling them about the workmen in the house, and hears of all the new things in their lives. The Madame is thrilled to hear of such construction, for she can now keep her grandchildren for a longer period of time. As Edna leaves, she hears gleeful songs in her head from the children; yet, by the time she arrives at her new home, the songs are gone and she is once again, alone and independent.
In pursuit of companionship with Mademoiselle Reisz, Edna seeks the pianist's company. Unfortunately, she is nowhere to be found, so Edna returns home to work on a painting. Madame Ratignolle stops over for a visit, eager to hear about the rest of the dinner party, from which her husband left so early. She comments on Edna's solitary lifestyle and Alcee Arobin's intentions, and Edna's absence from her life. After an amiable visit, Madame Ratignolle leaves and Mrs. Merriman drops by for a party call. Edna tells everyone to disband with the formalities.
Frustrated with everyone's visits, Edna finds refuge with Mademoiselle Reisz. She waits in the empty, unpretentious house, looking around at the piano and photos. Someone knocks on the door, so Edna walks over to answer it. Robert Lebrun has returned from Mexico, and presents himself. Edna is shocked and elated, curious as to when he returned and why he has not yet come to visit her. Robert has been back since the day before yesterday and busy. Edna is hurt that he did not seek her in the first hour of his return and cannot believe Mademoiselle's words that he truly loves her. Robert only learns of Edna's new abode yesterday from his mother and claims to have returned because the Mexicans were uncongenial.
Edna heads for the door to leave, for she believes Mademoiselle not to return until late. Robert follows her, hoping to walk her home. They pass the Pontellier mansion, under construction. Robert remarks that he never knew Edna in her home. She is happy that he did not and begs him to dine with her. He accepts and looks around the pigeon house at her sketches and old photographs. He sees one of Alcee Arobin's head and erupts. Edna informs him that he is a friend of hers and that they have been close recently. She doesn't see any reason in returning all the photographs that people have given her so that she may paint them. Edna prefers to hear about Robert's experiences in Mexico, while Robert claims that Edna is cruel. They sit in silence.