Chopin frequently foreshadows Edna’s tragic end throughout the novel through symbolic details. Although some of these details are subtle, others build tension and dread within the novel.

Edna and Robert’s Relationship

Chopin wastes no time at hinting that Edna and Robert have a special connection. In Chapter I, when Edna and Robert return from the seashore, Edna smiles at Robert even as she retrieves her wedding ring from her husband, foreshadowing her eventual affair. When Adèle warns Robert that he might give Edna the impression that he’s flirting in earnest in Chapter VII, Robert retorts that he wishes Edna would take him seriously, foreshadowing Robert's later admission that he has fallen in love with Edna.

The Impossibility of Edna’s Freedom

Chopin uses symbolism throughout the book to demonstrate that despite Edna’s realization of how trapped she feels in her marriage, society will not allow her to escape. The novel opens with a squawking caged parrot that other characters ignore or consider a nuisance. This image prefigures how Edna will eventually have her desires ignored by those around her, as when Léonce undermines her moving to the pigeon house by claiming she has merely moved to avoid construction. In the first section of the novel, a pair of young lovers often make a nuisance of themselves in public, always pursued by a grave older woman dressed in black and carrying a rosary. This juxtaposition of characters symbolizes death following love, casting an ominous shadow over Edna and Robert’s romance.

Edna’s Suicide

The first time Edna goes swimming in Chapter X, she swims so far away from shore that she momentarily has a vision of her own death. This scene prefigures her eventual suicide in the ocean. In addition to the literal parallel between this scene and Chapter XXXIX, here Edna looks back toward the people she has left behind on the shore and for a second panics that the amount of ocean between her and them is insurmountable, similar to how later she will see herself as separated from society, unable to return to her old life.