Summary and Analysis Chapter 15



Some days later, when Edna arrives in the dining hall for dinner, she is shocked to learn that Robert is leaving that night for Mexico. After dinner, she returns alone to her cottage, upset. Robert stops at her cottage on his way to the dock. Edna chastises him for his haste and secrecy; he offers no apology or excuse but asks her not to be angry with him. As he walks away, Edna realizes that she is in the midst of the same sort of obsessive infatuation she experienced in her youth.


Robert's sudden departure reveals that he has begun falling in love with Edna. His overly formal goodbye; his blurted statement that he was looking forward to seeing her in New Orleans; and his sudden, secret resolve to leave attest to an emotional motivation for his trip.

His departure also provides a catalyst for Edna's realization that she is once again infatuated with an unobtainable man. Yet her past experiences "offered no lesson which she was willing to heed." Rather than recognizing that she is prone to falling in love with unattainable men now that she is the one who is unattainable, Edna focuses only on the loss of her current source of romance, the person who caters to her desire for imaginative and sensual living. Her conviction that "she had lost that which . . . her impassioned, newly awakened being demanded" arises in part from Robert's contribution to the formation of that self with his tall tales of spirits and pirate gold and swimming lessons in the sultry Gulf waters.

Note that when Edna returns to her cottage after dinner that night, she is unsuccessful at helping her boys fall asleep, but instead riles them even further with an unfinished bed time story. Her unrest over Robert negatively affects her parenting.


Bedlam any place or condition of noise and confusion.

court bouillon an aromatic liquid used especially for poaching fish and made by cooking together white wine, water, onions, celery, carrots, and herbs.

indulgence a partial or complete remission, under conditions specified by the Catholic church, of divine temporal punishment that may otherwise still be due for sin committed but forgiven.

close here, confined or confining; narrow.

commodious offering plenty of room; spacious; roomy.

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