The Awakening Chapters 24-27
The Colonel tries to convince and persuade Edna to go to his sister's wedding, but she will not give in. He attempts to talk Mr. Pontellier into stopping at it on the way down from New York. He tells Leonce that he must be firm with his wife and that coercion is the only way to manage a wife. After her father and husband leave, Edna is left alone in the house, thrilled with her new, temporary freedom. "A feeling that was unfamiliar, but very delicious came over her" Chapter 24, pg. 95. She walks throughout the empty house, seeing things as new. After dining alone and bathing she falls asleep in a restless state of unknown.
Edna grows accustom to her private life, needing the sun for her work and seeking friends in the society outdoors. She now understands her moods and revels in its novelty. She frequents the races, where she spends time with Mrs. Highcamp, a beautiful society woman in her forties, and Alcee Arobin, a young socialite who would prey on beautiful young women. He is charming and a great fan of Mrs. Pontellier. They spend the day together, listen to Mrs. Highcamp's piano playing, and have drinks and dinner at the Jockey Club. Arobin takes Mrs. Highcamp home while Edna writes a letter to her husband in New York, telling him of her experiences. She is enjoying her liberated life, new friends, and good food.
One day, Arobin comes to pick up Mrs. Highcamp and Edna; however, Mrs. Highcamp is preoccupied with society events for her daughter. Alcee Arobin and Edna spend the day together, talking about how close they have become, and how Arobin's life might have been different had they known each other earlier. He shows her a large scar on his wrist her received from a saber in Paris when he was 19. Alcee desperately wants to see Edna's work, but she puts off this request as long as she can.
She speaks to him in a way the he finds offensive and asks him to leave. Alcee begs to return to see her and does not believe that she misled him in any way. He claims her emotions did so and begins to speak so well to her heart, that he seemed to deceive himself. He kisses the back of her arm so sensually that she does not know what to do or say. Her desire is strong, but she feels guilty about the emotional deception, not to her husband, but to Robert Lebrun. "Her husband seemed to her now like a person whom she had married without love as an excuse" Chapter 25, pg. 102. After he leaves, she goes to sleep. She knows that Alcee Arobin means nothing to her; however, he has mesmerized her into thinking of nothing and no one else.
Alcee Arobin writes a sincere letter of apology to Edna. She does not truly think that a little kiss on the hands warrants such actions, but she accepts nonetheless, inviting him to watch her work. He comes over immediately and the two begin to spend almost all of their time together.
Edna visits her pianist friend and makes the declaration that she is moving out of her grand house on Esplanade Street to a smaller abode only a few steps away. She expects more of a surprise and excitement from Mademoiselle Reisz, but only receives an influx of questions. Edna has only made the decision that morning, has yet to tell her husband, but simply does not want to live in the large house with so much responsibility and no possessions that belong to only her - not her husband. "Conditions would some way adjust themselves, she felt; but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself" Chapter, 26, pg. 106.
Edna announces her plans to throw a grand dinner party at her husband's house before she moves, and her new friends must all come for great food, singing, and a great time. Mademoiselle Reisz lets a letter fall to the floor from Robert and Edna becomes enthralled, wondering why she did not give the letter earlier with the news that Robert is returning. She thinks it would have been unfair, since poor Robert is in love with Edna and is trying to get over her, since he could not have her. They discuss love and Edna admits for the first time that she is, in fact, in love with Robert Lebrun. She leaves Reisz's house in an exuberant mood, wondering when exactly her beloved will be returning to New Orleans, sends chocolates to her children in Iberville, and writes a letter explaining her move and farewell dinner to her husband off in New York.
Alcee Arobin comes to speak with Edna at her request, and the only topic on her mind is her conversation with Mademoiselle Reisz from earlier that day. She had placed her hands on Edna's shoulder blades and made a comment about birds being able to fly. Alcee claims to never understand any of the pianist's nonsense, while Edna thinks that she is wonderfully sane and brilliant. Alcee is excited by Edna's novel thoughts of the evening, grabs her and kisses her passionately on the lips. This mere kiss becomes a torch of fire that had been ignited and transformed into desire.