Robert- The Awakening

Robert- The Awakening
Rebecca Ackerman, Robyn Himelstein, Eli
Johnson, Charlotte Jenkins, Margaret
• "A clean-shaved face made the resemblance
more pronounced than it would otherwise
have been. There rested no shadow of care
upon his open countenance. His eyes
gathered in and reflected the light and
languor of the summer day" (ch. 2)
"Robert talked a good deal about himself. He
was young, and did not know any better."
• "Robert spoke of his intention to go to Mexico
in the autumn, where fortune awaited him. He
was always intending to go to Mexico, but
some way never got there. Meanwhile he
held on to his modest position in a
mercantile house in New Orleans, where an
equal familiarity with English, French and
Spanish gave him no small value as a
clerk and correspondent."
Robert's Effect on Edna
• "Every Robert's going had some way taken
the brightness, the color, the meaning out of
everything. The conditions of her life were in
no way changed, but her whole existence
was dulled." (Ch. 16)
This quote shows one of Edna's earliest
realizations that Robert showed her how to
truly live, and is awakened to a life a of
excitement and freedom that she had never
felt before.
Robert's effect on Edna
"Edna had attempted all summer to learn to swim. She had received instructions from both the
men and women; in some instances from the children. Robert had pursued a system of lessons
almost daily; and he was nearly at the point of discouragement in realizing the futility of his efforts.
A certain ungovernable dread hung about her when in the water, unless there was a hand near by
that might reach out and reassure her.
But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who of a sudden
realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over-confidence. She could
have shouted for joy. She did shout for joy, as with a sweeping stroke or two she lifted her body to
the surface of the water.
A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given
her to control the working of her body and her soul. She grew daring and reckless,
overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum
Her unlooked-for achievement was the subject of wonder, applause, and admiration. Each one
congratulated himself that his special teachings had accomplished this desired end.
"How easy it is!" she thought. "It is nothing," she said aloud; "why did I not discover before that it
was nothing. Think of the time I have lost splashing about like a baby!" She would not join the
groups in their sports and bouts, but intoxicated with her newly conquered power, she swam out
She turned her face seaward to gather in an impression of space and solitude, which the vast
expanse of water, meeting and melting with the moonlit sky, conveyed to her excited fancy. As
she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself." (Ch. 10)
- Edna had tried to learn how to swim and it was not until Robert was a part of her life that she
was not longer until Robert was part of her life that she was not afraid to try. She felt powerful and
overestimated her strength with Robert's presence
Robert's Effect on Edna
"She slept but a few hours. They were troubled and feverish hours,
disturbed with dreams that were intangible, that eluded her, leaving only an
impression upon her half-awakened senses of something unattainable. She
was up and dressed in the cool of the early morning. The air was
invigorating and steadied somewhat her faculties. However, she was not
seeking refreshment or help from any source, either external or from within.
She was blindly following whatever impulse moved her, as if she had placed
herself in alien hands for direction, and freed her soul of responsibility"
Here is the first time where Edna sends out for Robert's company rather
than him tagging along with Adele. She shows symptoms of desiring
something more and as a result she internally feels liberated and chooses
to follow her instincts.
Robert's Effect on Edna
"Impossible!" she exclaimed. "How can a person start off from Grand
Isle to Mexico at a moment's notice, as if he were going over to Klein's or to
the wharf or down to the beach?"
"I said all along I was going to Mexico; I've been saying so for years!"
cried Robert, in an excited and irritable tone, with the air of a man defending
himself against a swarm of stinging insects.
Madame Lebrun knocked on the table with her knife handle.
"Please let Robert explain why he is going, and why he is going to-night,"
she called out. "Really, this table is getting to be more and more like Bedlam
every day, with everybody talking at once. Sometimes -- I hope God will
forgive me -- but positively, sometimes I wish Victor would lose the power of
(Chapter 15)
- Edna's anger towards Robert for his decision to go to Mexico
Robert's effect on Edna
"As Edna walked along the street she was thinking of
Robert. She was still under the spell of her
infatuation. She had tried to forget him, realizing the
inutility of remembering. But the thought of him was
like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. it was
not that she dwelt upon details of their acquaintance, or
recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it
was his being his existence, which dominated her intensity which filled her with an
incomprehensible longing." (Ch. 18)
Robert's effect on Edna
Robert's return from Mexico:
She found in his eyes, when he looked at her for one silent moment, the same tender caress, with
an added warmth and entreaty which had not been there before the same glance which had
penetrated to the sleeping places of her soul and awakened them.
A hundred times Edna had pictured Robert's return, and imagined their first meeting. It
was usually at her home, whither he had sought her out at once. She always fancied him
expressing or betraying in some way his love for her. And here, the reality was that they sat ten
feet apart, she at the window, crushing geranium leaves in her hand and smelling them, he twirling
around on the piano stool, saying:
"I was very much surprised to hear of Mr. Pontellier's absence; it's a wonder Mademoiselle
Reisz did not tell me; and your moving -- mother told me yesterday. I should think you would have
gone to New York with him, or to Iberville with the children, rather than be bothered here with
housekeeping. And you are going abroad, too, I hear. We shan't have you at Grand Isle next
summer; it won't seem -- do you see much of Mademoiselle Reisz? She often spoke of you in the
few letters she wrote."
"Do you remember that you promised to write to me when you went away?" A flush overspread
his whole face.
"I couldn't believe that my letters would be of any interest to you."
(Chapter 33)
Robert's effect on Edna
Final farewell:
Robert was not waiting for her in the little parlor. He was nowhere at hand.
The house was empty. But he had scrawled on a piece of paper that lay in
the lamplight:
"I love you. Good-by -- because I love you."
Edna grew faint when she read the words. She went and sat on the sofa.
Then she stretched herself out there, never uttering a sound. She did not
sleep. She did not go to bed. The lamp sputtered and went out. She was
still awake in the morning, when Celestine unlocked the kitchen door and
came in to light the fire.
(Chapter 38)
His conclusion about her death:
Robert would most likely conclude that Edna’s death was a suicide or at
least be very suspicious. He was aware of Edna’s desire to leave her
husband and be with him. He knew that Edna loved him and hoped for them
to have a life together. It was Robert, and not Edna, who shot down this
idea because of societal constraints just before Edna’s death. Robert is
therefore aware that something traumatic has very recently happened to
Edna. He also knew of her unhappiness before their relationship, as he
spent time with Edna at Grand Isle. He saw her interactions with her
children and Leonce, and knew she did not feel like a mother typically does
for her children and did not love Leonce. He would have known, or been
able to conclude, that Edna had little in her life at this point besides him. He
may see his own departure as causing Edna’s suicide, and feel guilt and
regret. Robert could not have been too surprised by Edna’s decision to take
her life and the way she did so as a result of the last conversation they had
together. In Edna’s “Pigeon House” she told Robert “I am no longer one of
Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I
choose.” “[Robert’s] face grew a little white. “What do you mean?” he
asked.” It is clear that Edna’s total awakening and newfound, all-consuming
independence – though initiated by Robert himself – concerns Robert and
makes him uncomfortable. At this point Robert realizes that Edna’s