How is Edna an outsider at Grand Isle?

Edna is an outsider at Grand Isle because unlike the other guests, she is not a member of the Creole community despite her marriage to a Creole man. In Chapter 4, Edna notes that Creole women seem freer about intimate issues than she is used to, while at the same time maintaining a “lofty chastity” or fidelity and purity. Edna’s discomfort around this duality leads Adèle Ratignolle to warn Robert that Edna might take his flirtations seriously.

Why does Robert Lebrun leave for Mexico?

Officially, Robert Lebrun leaves for Mexico because he hears about a business opportunity there, and he wants to earn more money. However, we later learn that he departs suddenly because of his growing feelings for Edna. Robert doesn’t think Edna feels the same way about him. In addition, he doesn’t want to break up Edna's marriage, as we see from his hesitancy to begin an affair with her even when she confesses her feelings.

Is Edna in love with Alcée Arobin? 

Edna is not in love with Alcée Arobin, but he allows her to explore her newfound sensuality. At the end of Chapter 25, when Alcée begs Edna to continue their friendship, Edna realizes that even though she feels nothing for Alcée, she enjoys how his romantic attention makes her feel. In the aftermath of their first kiss, Edna regrets her first experience of the excitement of desire had no love in it.

Why does Adèle Ratignolle stop visiting Edna in New Orleans?

Adèle stops visiting Edna because of Edna’s association with Alcée Arobin. Arobin’s habit of seducing married women is so notorious in New Orleans society that Doctor Mandelet identifies Edna having an affair with him as a worst-case scenario, highlighting Alcée’s ability to damage other reputations by association. In the eyes of society, Edna’s time alone with Alcée brands her as immoral. Therefore, Adèle can no longer keep Edna’s company without facing social consequences.

Why does Edna move into the “pigeon house”?

Edna moves into the pigeon house as an expression of her autonomy and independence. Because Mr. Pontellier’s money funds their married lifestyle, Edna realizes that she cannot fully express her autonomy in their home because she is beholden to his wishes there. Edna pays for the small house with her own money and employs only a few servants with whom she feels close, which means she can truly be the mistress of her own house.

What are some of the different “awakenings” Edna experiences throughout the novel?

Throughout the novel, Edna undergoes various “awakenings” in the individual, social, financial, and sexual aspects of her life. She first becomes aware of the agency she has in managing her personal choices during her time at Grand Isle, choices such as going to the beach with Robert or staying up late after her midnight swim despite Mr. Pontellier’s entreaties for her to sleep. Edna expands her use of this newfound agency as she returns home to New Orleans by foregoing certain social norms. She essentially cancels her Tuesday reception days, and instead, she goes out into town alone. Edna experiences a financial awakening when she decides to use her own money to move into the pigeon house, increasing her sense of ownership. Finally, her interactions with Alcee Arobin and her passionate feelings for Robert represent a sexual awakening.

Does Edna commit suicide?

While the end of the novel makes it fairly clear that Edna drowns herself in the ocean, the exact circumstances and her motivations remain ambiguous. The extent to which she reflects on the relationships of her life suggests that the social disorder resulting from her “awakening” weighs heavily on her mind as she walks into the water. One reading of this moment suggests that she has failed to find the courage Mademoiselle Reisz speaks of, taking her life to avoid the pressure of making more daring and defying choices. On the other hand, her death could also represent the ultimate act of courage and signify her defiance of anyone or anything attempting to limit her agency. Regardless of interpretation, Edna’s death releases her from the oppressive forces in her life.

How does the novel depict French Creole culture?

Chopin depicts French Creole culture as being very traditional when it comes to family dynamics and more laidback in social situations. She establishes early on in the novel that Edna does not fit in among the other families at Grand Isle, all of whom are Creole. Topics of conversation, such as Madame Ratignolle’s childbirth story, surprise and embarrass Edna as she listens. Contrasting this freedom of expression is the strict patriarchal structure of Creole families. Madame Ratignolle’s family serves as an excellent example of this concept as she, unlike Edna, is a natural mother figure wholly devoted to her children. Edna also observes a “lofty chastity” in Creole women, suggesting that strict fidelity is yet another characteristic of their culture.

Why does Edna throw a lavish dinner party before moving into the pigeon house?

Edna’s grand dinner party represents an embrace of her feminine power and a public announcement of her freedom. Organizing and hosting a dinner party is traditionally a woman’s activity, one which might initially seem contrary to her goals. Edna’s approach to the party, however, makes it a particularly empowering event. She has complete authority over every choice that is made, including the table settings, food, and guest list, because her husband is away. Her decision to use “the best of everything” and dress in an elegant golden gown also creates an image of wealth and luxury which, above all, signifies an enormous sense of power. The gathering serves as an opportunity for Edna to stand out among her social circle and make a statement about her new identity.

Why does Edna feel such strong emotions when listening to music?

Early on in the novel, Edna makes it clear that she enjoys listening to music and that it often inspires images in her mind. She has a very different response, however, upon listening to Mademoiselle Reisz play piano at Grand Isle. Rather than seeing images in her mind, she feels deep emotion in her soul. Throughout the rest of the novel, music continues to coincide with things she has deep feelings for, including her relationship with Robert. Edna’s relationship to music parallels the indescribable emotions she experiences throughout her “awakening.” She understands music on a different level than other listeners, a quality that makes her “the only one worth playing for” according to Mademoiselle Reisz. Similarly, Edna is the only one acknowledging her oppression and responding to it.