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Steven SchwartzMr Speight Ednas CharacterThe society of Grand Isle places many expectations on its women to belongto men and be subordinate to their children Edna Pontelliers societytherefore abounds with mother-women who idolized their children worshippedtheir husbands and esteemed it to a holy privilege to efface themselvesas individuals The characters of Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reiszrepresent what society views as the suitable and unsuitable woman figuresMademoiselle Ratignolle as the ideal Grand Isle woman a home-loving motherand a good wife and Mademoiselle Reisz as the old unmarried childlessmusician who devoted her life to music rather than a man Edna oscillatesbetween the two identities until she awakens to the fact that she needs tobe an individual but encounters the resistance of societys standardsto her desireKate Chopin carefully though subtly establishes that Edna does not neglecther children but only her mother-woman image Chopin portrays this ideaby telling the reader Mrs Pontellier was not a mother-woman Themother-woman seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle Edna tries onone occasion to explain to Adele how she feels about her children and howshe feels about herself which greatly differs from the mother-woman imageShe says I would give up the unessential I would give my money I wouldgive my life for my children but I wouldnt give myself I cantmake it more clear its only something I am beginning to comprehendwhich is revealing itself to me This specifically contrasts the mother-womanidea of self-sacrificing for your husband and children Also the something which is revealing itself does not become completely clear to Ednaherself until just before the end when she does indeed give her life butnot her self for her childrens sake Although Edna loves her childrenshe does not confuse her own life with theirsSimilarly to Ednas relationship with her children is that with herhusband Leonce The Grand Isle society defines the role of wife as fulldevotion towards their husband and to self-sacrafice for your husband Ednanever adhered to the societies definition
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