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The inside of the house is elegant and tasteful, with plush carpeting, tapestries, and paintings. Pontellier receives guests on Tuesday afternoons.

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Maids serve liqueur, coffee, and chocolate. In the evenings, Edna and her husband sometimes attend an opera or a play. She says she simply felt like getting away. Belthrop was among the attendees. He then complains about the cook, saying the fish, roast, and vegetables were ill prepared. Good night. The narrator says, "All the mystery and witchery of the night seemed to have gathered there amid the perfumes and the dusky and tortuous outlines of flowers and foliage.

by Kate Chopin

But the voices were not soothing that came to her from the darkness and the sky above and the stars. She paces, tears up her handkerchief, and removes her wedding ring and flings it to the carpet. She stamps on it. Taking a glass vase from a table, she hurls it into the hearth. A maid hears the crash and enters. She cleans up the glass and finds the ring on the floor. She gives it to Edna, who slides it back onto her finger. She declines, saying he should not spend so lavishly but should be saving money now and then.

On the porch, he kisses her good-bye and heads off to his office.

The boys are playing with their wagon, hauling sticks and blocks, under the supervision of the quadroon. A fruit vendor is passing by. But Edna has no interest in anything she sees. They are all of a world to which she no longer belongs. After she goes inside, she selects several of her sketches and takes them to Madame Ratignolle's. On the way, she thinks of Robert.


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She is still under his spell. She is not thinking of any one moment with him—just of him, his being. Madame Ratignolle lives nearby in spacious apartments above her husband's prospering drugstore on the corner of a street.

There, Edna shows her the sketches, saying she wishes to take more of an interest in art and is thinking of studying with a local artist. After they eat an excellent meal, Mr. Ratignolle observes that Edna looks a bit unwell and suggests a remedy. When she leaves, Edna feels depressed. The happy domestic life she witnessed is not for her, she realizes. She sees in it only boredom.

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In the ensuing days, Edna begins doing what she wants to do and even stops hosting the Tuesday afternoon parties. She comes and goes as she pleases; she does not worry about whether she is managing the household properly. But she does not back down. She can be as insolent as he can. Perhaps I shan't always feel like it. And she is a better musician than Edna is a painter, he adds. It isn't on account of painting that I let things go. I don't know. Let me alone; you bother me. Life seems senseless. On a day that she is unhappy, she looks up Mademoiselle Reisz's address in Bienville Street and goes to her home to hear her play.

However, she discovers that Reisz has moved; the people occupying her former home do not know her new address.

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  • When she goes to a nearby grocery to inquire further, the grocer says he does not know where she moved but is glad she is gone. He does not like her. Edna then goes to a familiar address—that of Madame Lebrun—to learn Reisz's whereabouts. She rings at the locked gate, and Victor comes out and opens it. He is pleased to see Edna. While a servant goes inside to summon Madame Lebrun, Edna seats herself on the side porch. Victor, a handsome boy of nineteen, says he is only in New Orleans for the day.

    He looks after the cottages during the winter and resides there permanently. Madame Lebrun greets Edna warmly. When she asks Victor to fetch them, he says he remembers everything in them and gives Edna an account. Richard had met Montel, who was helping him to advance in the business world. Although he had not yet improved his lot, the opportunities were promising. He described life in Mexico City, enclosed a check for Madame Lebrun, and sent his love. Edna feels depressed at having not herself received any message from Robert, then inquires about Mademoiselle Reisz, and Madame Lebrun gives her the address.

    Mademoiselle greets Edna warmly and they chat over coffee. The latter has received a letter from Robert. While Edna reads it, Reisz plays for her. Afterward, Reisz invites her to come anytime. When Edna is gone, Mademoiselle Reisz picks up the letter, damp with tears, and inserts it into its envelope. There, he discusses with the doctor Edna's recent change in behavior. But he promises to go to supper at the Pontellier home to observe Edna. Edna's father, who had been a colonel in the Confederate Army, comes to New Orleans to visit Edna and to purchase a wedding gift for Janet and a new suit of clothes for himself.

    Although he and Edna had never been close, she finds him a good companion during his days in the city. Edna and her father had been to the racetrack that afternoon and talk about their experience at dinner. Other guests at the dinner—Mrs. Later during her father's visit, Edna argues with him over her refusal to attend Janet's wedding. If she does not attend, he says before leaving, Janet and Margaret will never speak to her again. After he goes, she is happy to be rid of him. Her husband, meanwhile, goes on a business trip to New York.

    Chapters 6–10

    His trip coincides with a visit the children are having with their grandmother in Iberville. Thus, Edna is alone, but she enjoys her solitude. When she retires that night, all is peaceful and quiet. Highcamp, a tall, intelligent blonde in her forties. Later, Edna and Arobin dine at the home of the Highcamps. Then Arobin takes her home. The next day, Edna spends an afternoon on an outing with Arobin, who is easy to talk to, then dines with him at her home. Before he leaves, he asks her to attend the races again, but she declines the offer. Then he asks whether he may come by to see her pictures the following day.

    She says no. Chap[ter Edna receives a letter of apology from Arobin. Feeling embarrassed, she writes back and invites him to see her art work. Thereafter, she sees him often. One day, she informs Mademoiselle Reisz that she is going to move from her house on Esplanade Street to a small house around the corner. She wants more independence. Her present house and the money supporting it are not hers, she says.