In Kate Chopin's, The Awakening, Edna Pontellier came in contact with many different people during a summer at Grand Isle. Some had little influence on her life while others had everything to do with the way she lived the rest of her life. The influences and actions of Robert Lebrun on Edna led to her realization that she could never get what she wanted, which in turn caused her to take her own life.
In the Creole culture, outward affection and expression were a common thing. Edna, being brought up in Kentucky, "was at first a little confused. . .by the Creole's gentle caress. She was not accustomed to an outward and spoken expression of affection, either in herself or in others," (Chopin 22). Robert knew that Edna was not of Creole background and that she might not take his flirting as simply that. Yet, he still continued to playfully pursue Edna like the women which he had been devoting himself to each summer for the past eleven years. He did not understand that what he was doing was wrong in the culture that Edna had been brought up with. Once, when Robert laid his head against Edna's arm, she brushed him off. He then did it again and Edna "could not but believe it to be thoughtlessness on his part; yet that was no reason she submit to it," (15). Edna was at first disturbed by Robert's actions. Because she did not know about the Creole culture, she allowed Robert to flirt with her and she actually took him seriously. The flirting resulted in her starting to have feelings for him and to wonder about her place in life.
Another thing was that Robert was not blind to the whole situation and that Edna would not understand his flirting. When Madame Ratignolle was walking back to the house with Robert, she flat out warned him about what he was doing. "Let Mrs. Pontellier alone. . .she is not one of us; she is not like us. She might make the unfortunate blunder of taking you seriously," (27). Robert argues that there is no possibility of Edna taking him seriously. That whole conversation only reiterates that Robert does not understand what he is getting Edna and himself into.
Robert finally realized what was happening between Edna and him. He started to have feelings for her that he could not control. When he told everyone that he was going to Mexico for business, it was actually to get away from ...
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...ike almost everyone else, Leonce also did not think that anything would come out of Robert's flirting with Edna. Leonce did not realize that Edna was not brought up in the Creole culture and would not know how to deal with the way that Robert acted. He allowed Robert and Edna to go out together without even thinking twice. He did not see anything wrong with the two of them doing everything together. Even though it was common in the Creole culture for people to openly show their feelings, Leonce should
have realized that Edna, because of her different upbringings, would not know how to deal with Robert's actions. In one way or another he was the one that helped start their feeling towards each other.
Although there are a few more small examples about how Leonce might have caused Edna to take her life, the influence that Robert had over her is even more overpowering.
Because of Robert, Edna realized that she was not happy with who or where she was and decided to drastically change everything that she was accustomed to. If Edna Pontellier had never met Robert Lebrun, she may never have realized how unhappy she was, and, in turn, may never have chosen to end her life.
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