The Awakening: Character List | SparkNotes (2023)

Edna Pontellier

Edna is the protagonist of the novel, and the “awakening” to which the title refers is hers. The twenty-eight-year-old wife of a New Orleans businessman, Edna suddenly finds herself dissatisfied with her marriage and the limited, conservative lifestyle that it allows. She emerges from her semi-conscious state of devoted wife and mother to a state of total awareness, in which she discovers her own identity and acts on her desires for emotional and sexual satisfaction. Through a series of experiences, or “awakenings,” Edna becomes a shockingly independent woman, who lives apart from her husband and children and is responsible only to her own urges and passions. Tragically, Edna’s awakenings isolate her from others and ultimately lead her to a state of total solitude.

Read an in-depth analysis of Edna Pontellier.

Mademoiselle Reisz

Mademoiselle Reisz may be the most influential character in Edna’s awakening. She is unmarried and childless, and she devotes her life to her passion: music. A talented pianist and somewhat of a recluse, she represents independence and freedom and serves as a sort of muse for Edna. When Edna begins actively to pursue personal independence, she seeks Mademoiselle Reisz’s companionship. Mademoiselle warns Edna that she must be brave if she wishes to be an artist—that an artist must have a courageous and defiant soul. Mademoiselle Reisz is the only character in the novel who knows of the love between Robert and Edna, and she, thus, serves as a true confidante for Edna despite their considerably different personalities. Mademoiselle Reisz is also a foil for Edna’s other close female friend, Adèle Ratignolle, who epitomizes the conventional and socially acceptable woman of the late nineteenth century.

Read an in-depth analysis of Mademoiselle Reisz.

Adèle Ratignolle

Edna’s close friend, Adèle Ratignolle represents the Victorian feminine ideal. She idolizes her children and worships her husband, centering her life around caring for them and performing her domestic duties. While her lifestyle and attitude contrast with Edna’s increasing independence, Adèle unwittingly helps facilitate her friend’s transformation. Her free manner of discourse and expression, typical of Creole women of the time, acts as a catalyst for Edna’s abandonment of her former reserved and introverted nature. Adele is also a foil for Mademoiselle Reisz, whose independent and unconventional lifestyle inspires Edna’s transgressions.

(Video) The Awakening by Kate Chopin | In-Depth Summary & Analysis

Read an in-depth analysis of Adèle Ratignolle.

Robert Lebrun

Robert Lebrun is the twenty-six-year-old single man with whom Edna falls in love. Dramatic and passionate, he has a history of becoming the devoted attendant to a different woman each summer at Grand Isle. Robert offers his affections comically and in an over-exaggerated manner, and thus is never taken seriously. As the friendship between Robert and Edna becomes more intimate and complex, however, he realizes that he has genuinely fallen in love with Edna. He is torn between his love for her and society’s view that women are the possessions of their husbands.

Read an in-depth analysis of Robert Lebrun.

Alcée Arobin

The seductive, charming, and forthright Alcée Arobin is the Don Juan of the New Orleans Creole community. Arobin enjoys making conquests out of married women, and he becomes Edna’s lover while her husband is on a business trip to New York. Although Robert Lebrun is the man whom Edna truly loves, Arobin satisfies Edna’s physical urges while Robert is in Mexico. Throughout their passionate affair, Edna retains authority and never allows Alcée to own or control her.

Read an in-depth analysis of Alcée Arobin.

(Video) The Awakening | Characters | 60second Recap®

Léonce Pontellier

Léonce Pontellier, a forty-year-old, wealthy New Orleans businessman, is Edna’s husband. Although he loves Edna and his sons, he spends little time with them because he is often away on business or with his friends. Very concerned with social appearances, Léonce wishes Edna to continue the practices expected of New Orleans women despite her obvious distaste for them. His relationship with Edna lacks passion and excitement, and he knows very little of his wife’s true feelings and emotions.

Doctor Mandelet

Doctor Mandelet is Léonce and Edna’s family physician. He is a fairly enlightened man, who silently recognizes Edna’s dissatisfaction with the restrictions placed on her by social conventions. When Léonce consults with him about Edna’s unconventional behavior, the doctor suspects that Edna is in love with another man, although he keeps his suspicions to himself because he recognizes that there is little Léonce can do if Edna is indeed in love with someone else and that any further constraints imposed on her will only intensify her revolt. Doctor Mandelet offers Edna his help and understanding and is worried about the possible consequences of her defiance and independence.

The Colonel

The Colonel, a former Confederate officer in the Civil War, is Edna’s father. He is a strict Protestant and believes that husbands should manage their wives with authority and coercion. While Edna’s relationship with her father is not affectionate, she is surprised by how well she gets along with her father when they are together.

Victor Lebrun

Victor Lebrun is Robert’s wayward younger brother. He spends his time chasing women and refuses to settle down into a profession.

Madame Lebrun

Madame Lebrun is the widowed mother of Victor and Robert. She owns and manages the cottages on Grand Isle where the novel’s characters spend their summer vacations.

(Video) Study Guide for The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Summary and Analysis

The Lady in Black

The lady in black is a vacationer at the Lebrun cottages on Grand Isle. She embodies the patient, resigned solitude that convention expects of a woman whose husband has died, but her solitude does not speak to any sort of independence or strength. Rather, it owes to a self-effacing withdrawal from life and passion out of utter respect for her husband’s death. Throughout the novel, the lady in black remains silent, which contributes to her lack of individuality and to her role within the text as the symbol of the socially acceptable husbandless woman.

The Two Lovers

The two lovers are vacationers at the Lebrun cottages on Grand Isle. They represent the form of young love accepted by society. Always appearing in conjunction with the lady in black, the lovers represent the stage of a woman’s life that precedes her maternal duties.

The Farival Twins

The Farival twins are fourteen-year-old girls who vacation at Grand Isle with their family and who frequently entertain their fellow guests by playing the piano. They represent the destiny of adolescent Victorian girls: chaste motherhood. Having been dedicated to the Virgin Mary at birth, they wear her colors at all times. Moreover, they embody society’s expectations of the way women should use art—as a way of making themselves more delightful to others, rather than as a means of self-expression.

Mrs. Highcamp

A tall, worldly woman in her forties, Mrs. Highcamp spends time with many of the fashionable single men of New Orleans under the pretext of finding a husband for her daughter. Alcée Arobin is one of these young men, and the two call on Edna to attend the races and to accompany them to dinner—meetings that catalyze the affair between Edna and Arobin.

Janet and Margaret

Janet is Edna’s younger sister. Edna was never close to her and she refuses to attend her wedding. Margaret is Edna and Janet’s older sister. After their mother died, Margaret took over the role of mother figure for her younger sisters.

(Video) The Awakening by Kate Chopin | Characters, Summary, Analysis


A young, pretty Spanish girl, Mariequita is a mischievous flirt who lives on Grand Isle. She seems to fancy both Robert and Victor Lebrun and, along with Adèle, is the picture of the self-demeaning coquetry that Edna avoids.

Madame Antoine

When Edna feels faint at the Sunday service on the island of Chênière Caminada, she and Robert go to Madame Antoine’s for the day. A friendly inhabitant of the island, Madame Antoine takes them in and cares for Edna, to whom she tells stories of her life.

Mr. and Mrs. Merriman, Miss Mayblunt, & Mr. Gouvernail

Some of the guests present at the dinner party Edna holds to celebrate her move to the “pigeon house.”

Etienne & Raoul Pontellier

Etienne and Raoul are Edna and Léonce’s two sons. They are four and five years old, respectively.


Who are the characters of The Awakening? ›

The Awakening

Who does Edna cheat with in The Awakening? ›

The Awakening of Edna Pontellier

She begins an affair with Arobin, although she loves Robert. At first, she feels she is cheating on Robert, but she chooses to fill her sexual desires rather than commit to another man. Edna also moves out of her house as a result of her awakening.

Is Mademoiselle Reisz married? ›

On the other hand, Edna's other friend Mademoiselle Reisz is completely opposite of Adele. She is not married, has no children, and she lives her life for herself.

Who does Edna fall in love with in The Awakening? ›

However, Edna begins to fall in love with Robert and realizes that she does not love her husband. She also feels as though her children are nothing more than a burden on her. Edna has issues below the surface that spawn her irrational, selfish, and uncaring actions.

How many characters are in awakening? ›

The player can recruit approximately forty characters, not including characters included in downloadable content. The game features multiple uses of the Nintendo 3DS-exclusive SpotPass and StreetPass functions via the world map.

Who is pregnant in The Awakening? ›

Adele is very pregnant by this time, near her due date. Adele talks with Edna about Edna's dinner, asks about Edna's new little house, and extracts a promise from Edna to be by her side when she delivers.

Was Edna pregnant in The Awakening? ›

She not only sees herself primarily as mother, but she also proves her maternity by having a baby near the end of the novel. Mademoiselle Reisz, another prominent woman in Edna's life, also manages to reveal her maternal nature in obscure ways.

How many kids does Edna have? ›

Minor Characters. Raoul: Raoul is one of Edna and Leonce Pontellier's two young sons. He becomes slightly ill towards the beginning of the novella, causing Leonce to yell at Edna for being an irresponsible mother. Etienne: Etienne is the other young son of Edna and Leonce Pontellier.

Does Edna like Alcee? ›

Edna did not love Alcee, for she had fallen for another man not her husband, Robert, who ran away from their doomed love.

Who is Mr Pontellier wife? ›

Edna Pontellier Main protagonist who, while in a passionless marriage to Léonce Pontellier, falls in love with Robert Lebrun and has a brief affair with Alcée Arobin. A member of New Orleans' upper class, she has artistic leanings. Léonce Pontellier Edna's husband, a successful and materialistic businessman.

Who is Edna Pontellier married to? ›

Léonce Pontellier, a forty-year-old, wealthy New Orleans businessman, is Edna's husband. Although he loves Edna and his sons, he spends little time with them because he is often away on business or with his friends.

What is Mrs Pontellier's first name? ›

The Awakening opens on an island in Grand Isle, Louisiana, where 28-year-old Edna Pontellier is vacationing with her Creole husband, Léonce, and their two children, Etienne and Raoul.

Does Edna sleep with Arobin? ›

Does Edna Pontellier really have sex with Alcée Arobin? A: Yes. The language in Chapter 27 reflects literary conventions of the 1890s.

Why does Edna marry Leonce? ›

Chapter 7 reveals much about Edna's history of rebellion: running away into the fields to escape her father's gloomy prayer services and marrying Léonce not out of personal passion for him but because of her family's "violent opposition" to her marrying a Catholic man.

Why did Robert leave Edna in the end? ›

He has two reasons for leaving. First, Léonce will never free Edna, which is the only way Robert could be with her. Second, Robert realizes that Edna wants to be a free woman, not owned by any man, which is too radical an idea.

Is Anna playable in Awakening? ›

Anna is a recurring character in the Fire Emblem series, made playable for the first time in Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Can Alistair be in Awakening? ›

Answer: No, because Alistair doesn't make an appearence in Awakening unless you made him king in Origins. Alistair is alive and well, just not in Amaranthine. He is, however, mentioned in the epilogue if a female Warden chose romance him and he stayed a Warden along with her.

How old is Roy in Awakening? ›

Roy is also given access to the Sword of Seals, one of the most powerful weapons in Fūin no Tsurugi. He is stated in the Hasha no Tsurugi manga to be 15 years old. He makes a brief cameo in the ending to Rekka no Ken.

Who died in The Awakening? ›

As for the ending part of The Awakening written by Kate Chopin, the heroine Edna embraces death in the sea. Before throwing herself into the sea, Edna has experienced the fiery and confusing interior journey.

Who is the perfect mother in The Awakening? ›

Madame Ratignolle As A Mother

As stated above, Adele Ratignolle is known throughout The Awakening as an ideal mother to her children.

Who gives birth in The Awakening? ›

Adèle has just given birth to another baby when she selflessly implores Edna to remember her children.

What does Edna's first swim symbolize? ›

What is the symbolic meaning of Edna's first successful attempt to swim? Paradoxically, Edna's first swim symbolizes both rebirth and maturation.

How many awakenings did Edna? ›

These three awakenings, artistic, sexual, and motherhood, are what Chopin includes in her novel to define womanhood; or, more specifically, independent womanhood.

What race is Edna in The Awakening? ›

Edna as the representative, however, stands for the privileged group-white American middle- class people that exclude people from other country, other race and other class. The awakening and independence for the privileged women are based on the sacrifice of the color women.

Who is Edna married to in the awakening? ›

But she saw her marriage to Léonce as the end to her life of passion and the beginning of a life of responsibility.

Does Edna leave her kids? ›

Edna goes about her independence the wrong way, she does so in a selfish manner, abandoning her kids and husband, she even isolates herself from the majority of society.

Why does Calixta sleep with Alcee? ›

Alcee wants to sleep with her Calixta. She prefers Alcee because he looks better and has money. She figures out that she has no future with Alcee and goes back to Bobinot.

Why does Edna love Robert? ›

Unlike the Creole women who play along with his flirtations, enjoying the company and attention, Edna is swept away by Robert's devotion. She sees in him a promise of the love and excitement that have been missing from her life since she married Léonce.

Is Edna attracted to Alcee Arobin? ›

Edna is attracted to Arobin, but does not love him. It's implied that they eventually become lovers, though the book does not describe anything more explicit than a kiss.

Who is Madame Lebrun's favorite son? ›

Mademoiselle Reisz tells the truth about Madame Lebrun's relationship with her sons, revealing Victor as the favorite, and offers blunt, acerbic appraisals of everyone else.

What is Edna's relationship with Leonce? ›

Edna never felt comfortable in her relationship with Leonce. She had managed to assume the typical role of a female and never stray from her responsibilities that come with that. She had always done what was expected of her from her husband. However, this did not initiate solely with her husband's wants.

Who is the lady in black to Edna? ›

The unnamed Lady in Black appears time and again like a ghost haunting Edna's new world, dampening her new-found sense of individuality. The Lady in Black symbolizes the power of social expectations, the strong grip of gender norms, or gender roles and requirements, and the consequences of defying them.

Why does Edna refuse to go to her sister wedding? ›

Léonce reveals that she has abandoned her domestic and social duties, become moody, and has stopped having sex with him. Further, Edna is refusing to attend her sister's wedding, asserting that a wedding is a highly regrettable occasion.

Who is the antagonist in The Awakening? ›

Society, in the form of the expectations around marriage and motherhood, is the antagonist of the novel. The characters who thwart Edna's quest for self-expression do so as embodiments of societal norms. Léonce provides a clear barrier to Edna pursuing her happiness because as her husband, he has power over her life.

What does Alcee represent in The Awakening? ›

The tantalizing Alcée Arobin represents the danger of passion and its threat to Edna's autonomy. Before we even meet Alcée, we learn from Doctor Mandelet that Alcée has the power to ruin reputations, suggesting that he is a sinister or threatening figure.

Why is Edna not a mother woman? ›

Mother-women are slaves to their husbands and children on the internal sphere, but to society they are angels. Edna is not a mother-woman as she still retains parts of herself as a self-serving woman away from her duties as a wife and mother. “Even as a child she had lived her own small life all within herself.

What is Madame Lebrun personality? ›

Madame Lebrun is surely a part of the elite New Orleans society, though she also has an outsider status. A strong protector of the way things should be done, she owns a pension, or boarding house, and hosts the elegant summer vacations of the upper crust of New Orleans. She holds almost too tightly to the 'old regime.

How does The Awakening end? ›

At the end of the novel, Edna returns to Grand Isle, and after stripping down to her swimsuit, she walks into the sea. She begins to swim until she loses her strength and presumably drowns.

Why does Edna feel regret after kissing Arobin? ›

Edna cries when Arobin leaves. She feels assailed by her husband in the form of the house around her, and by her love for Robert. The kiss makes her see the world very vividly; her only regret is that this clarity did not come from love.

How does Edna feel when Arobin kisses her? ›

It is the most physically charged kiss of her life. Chapter 28 reveals that after Arobin leaves, Edna feels a storm of emotions, even crying briefly, but overall feels no shame. Having experienced the thrill of an intensely sexual kiss for the first time, she regrets only that it was not with Robert.

What does Edna regret about her kiss with Alcee? ›

Chapter 28

Edna feels that the only regret was that her kiss with Alcee was not out of love. It was not love that awakened her.

What type of character is Mr Pontellier? ›

Edna's husband, a pragmatic, sociable businessman who takes great care to keep up appearances. He expects his wife to perform her social and motherly obligations in the conventional ways, and he is quick to chastise her for any perceived oversights.

What kind of husband father is Mr Pontellier? ›

By the standards of his day, Leonce Pontellier is the perfect husband. This guy makes a good living and is a popular figure in society. He gives Edna plenty of money, indulges her hobbies, and even sends her care packages packed with goodies: A few days later a box arrived for Mrs.

Do Edna and Flanders stay together? ›

The episode sees Edna Krabappel and Ned Flanders begin dating, their relationship being left to the public vote. It has been followed by "The Falcon and the D'ohman", which revealed that they are still together, and "Ned 'n Edna's Blend", which revealed that they have since married.

Did Edna cheat with Arobin? ›

The Awakening of Edna Pontellier

She begins an affair with Arobin, although she loves Robert. At first, she feels she is cheating on Robert, but she chooses to fill her sexual desires rather than commit to another man.

Who is responsible for Edna's death? ›

Towards the end of the book, Edna feels hopeless. She regrets the lack of a relationship she has with her children but at the same time, understands now more than ever why she has never given them her whole self. The shock of Robert leaving her because he loves her leads her to suicide.

What is the name Edna gives to her favorite musical piece? ›

Pontellier loves hearing the woman play—the music often creates images in her mind. This time, Mademoiselle Reisz plays a piece Edna calls “Solitude.” Edna responds to the music not with images but with powerful feelings, and begins to cry.

Who are the foil characters in The Awakening? ›

Adele Ratignolle plays a huge role in Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening. Adele is a foil, or opposite, for Edna, the main character. She is wealthy and presented as the perfect woman of the time period. She has no real desires or identity outside of her home and family.

What are the kids names in The Awakening? ›

Plot summary. The Awakening opens on an island in Grand Isle, Louisiana, where 28-year-old Edna Pontellier is vacationing with her Creole husband, Léonce, and their two children, Etienne and Raoul.

Who are the two lovers in The Awakening? ›

"The lovers" represent Edna and Robert and the life they may have had if circumstances were different, the lady in black is juxtaposed with "the lovers" to implicate an inevitable failure of the relationship.

Who is the main antagonist in The Awakening? ›

Society, in the form of the expectations around marriage and motherhood, is the antagonist of the novel. The characters who thwart Edna's quest for self-expression do so as embodiments of societal norms. Léonce provides a clear barrier to Edna pursuing her happiness because as her husband, he has power over her life.

Who is the main character in The Awakening? ›

The Awakening

Who is the protagonist main character in The Awakening? ›

Edna Pontellier

Edna is the protagonist of the novel, and the “awakening” to which the title refers is hers. The twenty-eight-year-old wife of a New Orleans businessman, Edna suddenly finds herself dissatisfied with her marriage and the limited, conservative lifestyle that it allows.

Who is a mother woman in The Awakening? ›

Adele Ratignolle is the epitome of the male-defined wife and mother. She is a “mother-woman.” “[The mother-women] were women who idolized their children, worshipped their husbands and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels” (Chopin 10).

What does the lady in black symbolize? ›

The lady in black represents the conventional Victorian ideal of the widowed woman. She does not embark on a life of independence after fulfilling her duties as a wife; instead, she devotes herself to the memory of her husband and, through religion, to his departed soul.

Who is the wife in The Awakening? ›

Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of the novel “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, was such a women caught up in her role as wife and mother but awakened to the realities of a male dominated culture that would counteract her self-definition and made self-denial a prerequisite for marriage.

Was she dead in the end of awakening? ›

No, Florence does not die in the ending of The Awakening. There are various supporting statements for this. First off, we have the director, Nick Murphy, stating that she's not dead in his interview – “Rebecca and I decided she's alive and then she smokes and she gets a car“.

What is the climax in The Awakening? ›

Most readers view Edna's suicide as the definitive climax of the novel. Other possible climaxes include the first time Edna commits adultery by having sex with Alcée Arobin, and the moment when she declares her love aloud to Robert Lebrun and the two finally kiss.

Is Tom a ghost in The Awakening? ›

Tom is revealed to now be a ghost and was Florence's half brother and Maud's son. Florence and Tom grew up in the house that is now a boarding school. While Florence and Tom were young, their father became mad and killed Florence's mother, Tom and himself while also trying to kill Florence.


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