In The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses Adèle Ratignolle to illustrate the social conventions of the 19th century, helping us understand where Edna initially stands in the novella. Adèle Ratignolle’s character and values represent Edna’s origin of displacement. Madame Ratignolle clearly represents a “mother-woman”, or, in other words, a woman defined for her role as a mother. She is a responsible mother to her children, already preparing their winter wear, whereas Mrs. Pontellier is not even concerned about such an issue:
Mrs. Pontellier’s mind was quite at rest concerning the present material needs of her children, and she could not see the use of anticipating and making winter garments the subject of her summer meditations. (Chopin 8)
Edna’s priorities greatly differ from Adèle’s, given their different cultures. In fact, it is their differences that contribute to Edna’s cultural displacement and to her social displacement as well. Concerning the societal issue, there are the expectations of a wife’s role. On the one hand, Madame Ratignolle is not only a... [continues]
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