The Awakening

by: Kate Chopin

Alcée Arobin

He possessed a good figure, a pleasing face, not overburdened with depth of thought or feeling; and his dress was that of the conventional man of fashion.

In Chapter XXV, Edna has only recently become personally acquainted with Alcée Arobin. Chopin’s use of the words “pleasing” and “conventional” to describe Arobin show the contrast within his character. While he presents as an unremarkable figure, in reality he is a seducer of married women. Edna, not deeply enmeshed in the Creole community, could easily be fooled by his outward appearance.

He cast one appealing glance at her, to which she made no response. Alcée Arobin’s manner was so genuine that it often deceived himself.

With these lines in Chapter XXV, Chopin reveals Arobin’s shallowness. His primary motivation is to ensnare women. This drive is so strong that when he seeks Edna’s forgiveness here for kissing her, he fools even himself. Instead of being sorry he kissed her, the kiss and the appeal for forgiveness both are part of Arobin’s calculated effort to seduce her.

He was prolific in pretexts. His attitude became one of good-humored subservience and tacit adoration. He was ready at all times to submit to her moods, which were as often kind as they were cold.

In Chapter XXVI, Chopin’s description of how Arobin handles himself reveals the calculated nature of his effort to seduce Edna. Arobin is a superficial man, bent on sexual conquest. Because all that matters to him is physical intimacy with Edna, he will shape himself into whatever she needs him to be.

He did not answer, except to caress her. He did not say good night until she had become supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties.

In Chapter XXXI, Arobin’s persistence leads him to achieve his goal of a sexual relationship with Edna. As a practiced seducer of women, Arobin knows to ignore her words—she already bid him good night—and instead persuade her body to make a different demand. Though Arobin is the opposite of Robert, who loves Edna but will not touch her, Edna succumbs because of Arobin’s skillful ability to arouse physical desire in her.