The Awakening, and Selected Stories Characters

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The Awakening, and Selected Stories Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Awakening, and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin.

Edna Pontellier , appears in The Awakening

Edna is the main character in The Awakening. In her late twenties and originally from Kentucky, Edna lives in New Orleans with her husband Léonce and two young sons, Raoul and Étienne. While vacationing at Grand Isle, a popular summer resort for wealthy Louisiana families, Edna begins to experience a spiritual awakening. When she swims for the first time, she feels alive and independent. Her new independence both scares and excites her. When Edna swims out too far, she also realizes the danger associated with the risks she is taking.

Over the summer, Edna becomes infatuated with her friend, Robert Lebrun, and longs to be with him. She also grows very rebellious toward her husband and children, and views them as obligations that stand between her and the independence she craves. She pursues art as a hobby more than a profession, and explores new interests and behaviors in the way a child would. Edna appears to be seeing the world around her with new eyes and constantly testing the boundaries of socially acceptable behavior.

After leaving Grand Isle, Edna begins rejecting social customs and isolating herself from others. Edna does not want to feel that she belongs to anyone. When Edna begins going to the horse races, she gets to know Alcée Arobin and has an affair with him. Since Edna is still in love with Robert, however, she does not care much about Alcée. After Léonce goes to New York on a business trip, Edna spends most of her days painting in her art studio and visiting friends from Grand Isle, including Mademoiselle Reisz, an unusual woman with an independent spirit who inspires Edna with her musical talent and rejection of societal rules. Mademoiselle Reisz is the only person who knows about Edna's feelings for Robert.

Eventually, Edna's need for independence drives her to move out of the mansion and rent a small house where she can live alone. When Robert returns from Mexico, Edna realizes that he wants possess her just as Léonce did. Edna realizes that her independence will hurt her children, but is not willing to sacrifice her happiness for theirs. At the end of The Awakening, Edna commits suicide by drowning in the waters off of Grand Isle.

Mademoiselle Reisz , appears in The Awakening

Mademoiselle Reisz is a widow who befriends Edna and speaks with her candidly about her love for Robert and desire to be independent. Mademoiselle Reisz is an excellent musician, and her music awakens new emotions in Edna. Mademoiselle Reisz pays little attention to society's expectations of women and dislikes those who are not true to themselves.

When Edna visits her for the first time in New Orleans, Mademoiselle Reisz tells her she had not assumed she would come, thinking Edna had promised "as those women in society always do, without meaning it."

When Edna admits she does not know whether she likes Mademoiselle Reisz or not, Mademoiselle Reisz is pleased that Edna is being honest instead of just saying what society expects her to say.

When Edna compliments her on her piano playing, Mademoiselle Reisz appreciates Edna's genuine sentiment. While at Grand Isle, she tells Edna "You are the only one worth playing for. These others? Bah!" Although Mademoiselle Reisz is described as "disagreeable," a part of Edna wishes she could be like her. Before she dies, Edna worries that Mademoiselle Reisz would be disappointed in her lack of courage.

Léonce Pontellier , appears in The Awakening

Léonce Pontellier is Edna's husband. Although Léonce loves Edna, he does not understand why she resists doing what is expected of her. In Léonce's highly organized world, Edna's reputation is nearly as important as his own. Léonce believes in following the social customs required of someone of his considerable social status, and actually lies about Edna's reason for moving out of the mansion in order to save face.

Léonce believes it is critical to keep up appearances in order for his business to be successful. Although Léonce notices that Edna is behaving strangely before he leaves for New York, it does not occur to him that she might commit adultery or become suicidal. Léonce concerns himself principally with his business and social reputation.

Robert Lebrun , appears in The Awakening

Robert Lebrun is Madame Lebrun's son and the man Edna falls in love with during her summer at Grand Isle. Robert flirts with married women all of the time, so he does not see the danger in flirting with Edna, too. Over time, Robert begins to feel true love for Edna, which is why he flees to Mexico to avoid acting on his feelings. When Robert returns, he is still reluctant to cause a scandal by getting involved with a married woman. Unlike Edna, Robert still cares about what people think of him, and what people think about Edna.

Adèle Ratignolle , appears in The Awakening

Adèle is Edna's good friend. Edna describes her as "the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm." Adèle is dedicated to being the woman society expects her to be. She is content and devoted to her husband and children, and worries about Edna's relationships with Robert and Alcée. It is Adèle who reminds Edna to remember her children, which indirectly leads Edna to commit suicide.

Madame Lebrun , appears in The Awakening

Madame Lebrun owns the cottages at Grand Isle. She is also the mother of Victor and Robert Lebrun.

Raoul and Étienne Pontellier , appears in The Awakening

Raoul and Étienne are Edna and Léonce Pontellier's young sons.

Alcée Arobin , appears in The Awakening

Alcée spends time with Edna at the horse races and has an affair with her after Edna's husband leaves town on business.

Victor Lebrun , appears in The Awakening

Victor Lebrun is Robert Lebrun's younger brother and the son of Madame Lebrun. Victor is very impulsive and has a bad reputation.

Madame Antoine , appears in The Awakening

Madame Antoine owns the home on the island of Chênière Caminada where Edna rests during her trip with Robert.

Dr. Mandelet , appears in The Awakening

The Doctor is a friend of the Pontelliers and also their family physician. Léonce tells the Doctor he is concerned about Edna's mental health, but the Doctor thinks Edna is just going through a phase that will pass. The Doctor sees Edna the night before her suicide and tries to help her, but Edna refuses to talk about her problems with him.

The Colonel , appears in The Awakening

The Colonel is Edna's father and a former Confederate military officer. He comes to visit Edna in New Orleans, and is upset when she will not attend her sister's wedding with him.

Mildred Orme , appears in A Shameful Affair

Mildred is a well-read twenty-year-old woman who becomes involved with one of the farm workers while visiting the Kraummer farm.

Mrs. Kraummer , appears in A Shameful Affair

Mrs. Kraummer is the mistress of the Kraummer farmhouse.

Fred Evelyn , appears in A Shameful Affair

Fred is the middle-class "crank" who pretends to be a lower-class farm worker when he meets Mildred Orme.

Bobinôt, appears in At the 'Cadian Ball and The Storm

Bobinôt is a 'Cadian man who falls in love with Calixta. They eventually marry and have a little boy, Bibi.

Calixta, appears in At the 'Cadian Ball and The Storm

Calixta is an attractive young woman who agrees to marry Bobinôt in At the 'Cadian Ball and then makes love to Alcée Laballière in The Storm.

Bibi, appears in At the 'Cadian Ball and The Storm

Bibi is Calixta and Bobinôt's four-year-old son

Alcée Laballière , appears in At the 'Cadian Ball and The Storm

Alcée is a wealthy young planter. In At the 'Cadian Ball, he tries to woo Calixta but ends up with Clarisse, his cousin, instead. In The Storm, Alcée and Calixta make love.

Madame Laballière , appears in At the 'Cadian Ball

Madame Laballière is mother to Alcée Laballière and godmother to Clarisse.

Clarisse Laballière , appears in At the 'Cadian Ball and The Storm

Clarisse is Alcée's cousin and Madame Laballière's goddaughter in At the 'Cadian Ball. She is married to Alcée in The Storm.

Désirée Aubigny , appears in Désirée's Baby

Désirée is an orphan. After she marries Armand Aubigny and has his child, it becomes apparent the child is not white. Armand tells Désirée that means she is not white and asks her to leave his home. Désirée drowns herself and the baby in her despair.

Madame Valmondé , appears in Désirée's Baby

Madame Valmondé is Désirée's adoptive mother.

Armand Aubigny , appears in Désirée's Baby

Armand Aubigny is Désirée's husband. After Désirée kills herself, readers learn that Armand's mother was black and may have been the reason Armand's baby was biracial.

La Blanche , appears in Désirée's Baby

La Blanche is one of Armand's slaves.

Evariste Bonamour , appears in A Gentleman of Bayou Têche

Evariste is a 'Cadian fisherman who poses for Mr. Sublet and rescues Mr. Sublet's little boy, Archie. Evariste has a daughter named Martinette.

Mr. Sublet , appears in A Gentleman of Bayou Têche

Mr. Sublet is an artist that visits Bayou Têche and asks Evariste Bonamour to pose for a picture for him.

Aunt Dicey , appears in A Gentleman of Bayou Têche

Aunt Dicey warns Martinette that Mr. Sublet will put a caption under Evariste's picture identifying Evariste as a "low-down Cajun."

Archie Sublet , appears in A Gentleman of Bayou Têche

Martinette is Evariste Bonamour's daughter.

Mr. Hallet , appears in A Gentleman of Bayou Têche

Mr. Sublet stays at Mr. Hallet's home in Bayou Têche.

Mrs. Baroda , appears in A Respectable Woman

Mrs. Baroda is married to Gaston Baroda and attracted to his college friend, Gouvernail.

Mr. Gaston Baroda , appears in A Respectable Woman

Gaston is Mrs. Baroda's husband. He went to college with their houseguest, Gouvernail.

Gouvernail, appears in The Awakening, A Respectable Woman, and Athénaïse

Gouvernail is a journalist who appears in several of Kate Chopin's stories. In The Awakening, Gouvernail reads poetry at Edna's farewell dinner. In A Respectable Woman, Gouvernail visits his old college friend Gaston. In Athénaïse, Gouvernail falls in love with Athénaïse and is heartbroken when she returns to her husband.

Louise Mallard , appears in The Story of an Hour

Louise is Brently Mallard's wife. When Louise learns that Brently has been killed, she grieves at first but is then relieved to be a free woman who can do as she pleases. When she learns that Brently is alive, she dies from a heart attack.

Brently Mallard , appears in The Story of an Hour

Brently Mallard is believed to have been killed in a train accident. When his wife Louise sees him alive, she has a fatal heart attack.

Richards, appears in The Story of an Hour

Richards is Brently Mallard's friend. He helps Louise Mallard's sister Josephine break the news that Brently has been killed.

Josephine, appears in The Story of an Hour

Josephine is Louise Mallard's sister. She is the one who tells Louise that her husband has been killed.

Athénaïse , appears in Athénaïse

Athénaïse is an immature young bride who leaves her husband Cazeau. Athénaïse returns home when she learns she is pregnant.

Montéclin, appears in Athénaïse

Montéclin is Athénaïse's brother. He hates her husband Cazeau and helps Athénaïse leave him.

Cazeau, appears in Athénaïse

Cazeau is a planter who is married to Athénaïse.

Sylvie, appears in Athénaïse

Sylvie runs the apartments where Athénaïse stays in New Orleans. It is Sylvie who first realizes Athénaïse is pregnant.

Mrs. Sommers , appears in A Pair of Silk Stockings

Mrs. Sommers is a woman of little means who spends a day living in luxury.

Elizabeth Stock , appears in Elizabeth Stock's One Story

Elizabeth is a postmistress who loses her job after personally delivering a postcard to Nathan Brightman.

Nathan Brightman , appears in Elizabeth Stock's One Story

Nathan Brightman is a prominent businessman who learns from Elizabeth Stock about an urgent meeting the next day in St. Louis.

Tante Elodie , appears in The Godmother

Tante Elodie is Gabriel Lucaze's godmother. When she learns he has killed Everson, she helps him cover up the crime.

Gabriel Lucaze , appears in The Godmother

Gabriel Lucaze kills Everson and is then disgusted when his godmother, Tante Elodie, helps him cover up the crime.

Justin Lucaze , appears in The Godmother

Justin Lucaze is Gabriel's father. Justin almost married Tante Elodie when they were young.

Madame Amelia Nicolas , appears in The Godmother

Madame Nicolas is a widow who is involved with Gabriel Lucaze until he kills Everson. She is also Tante Elodie's friend.

Fifine Delonce , appears in The Godmother

Fifine Delonce is friends with Madame Nicolas and Tante Elodie. She is the one who tells Tante Elodie that Gabriel has left town.

Everson , appears in The Godmother

Everson is the man killed by Gabriel Lucaze.

Ninette , appears in A Little Country Girl

Ninette is a young girl who goes to the circus and later blames herself when a tragedy occurs.

Jules Perrault , appears in A Little Country Girl

Jules Perrault is the family friend who convinces Ninette's grandparents to let her attend the circus.

Grandmother and Grandfather Bézeau , appears in A Little Country Girl

The Bézeaus are Ninette's grandparents. Ninette lives with them.

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