A few weeks later, Mme. Lebrun organizes some entertainment for her
guests. Part of this entertainment will be piano recitals by the Farival twins, and Mlle. Reisz.
The twins are destined to become nuns and they are dressed in blue and
white, the standard colors associated with the Virgin Mary.
Ad'le also shows her prowess on the piano, and although the twins and Ad'le
suitably entertain Edna, it is Mlle. Reisz that really impresses her. She is struck by the feeling and passion that this middle-aged woman is able to produce on the piano.
When Mlle. Reisz finishes, she notices that Edna has been moved and Mlle. Reisz approaches her and tells her that she is the only worthy listener in the audience.
As the party draws to a close, Robert suggests a night-time swim.
There is a further symbol of a bird in this Chapter.
As Edna listens to the music visions flash into her mind.
We read, “When she heard it there came before her imagination the figure of
a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore. He was naked. His attitude was one of hopeless resignation as he looked toward a distant bird winging its flight away from him.”
This can be interpreted as L'once viewing his wife escaping from the
confines of his world and seeking distant horizons. The man looks at the escape of the bird with “hopeless resignation”.
Whilst Edna has her imagination fuelled by the music, she is also physically
affected by Mlle. Reisz’s rendition of one of Chopin’s Preludes who was a most passionate composer.
We read, “The very first chords which Mlle. Reisz struck upon the piano sent
a keen tremor down Mrs. Pontellier’s spinal column.”
Up until this scene, Edna had not been aware of the extent of her
deep-seated emotions. Her reaction to swimming in the sea, listening to the passionate music, and being intimately close with Ad'le are part of an introduction to what she will experience later with Robert and
We note that the entertainers such as the twins and Ad'le view music as a
hobby, a means by which to entertain. Mlle. Reisz and Edna will view these pastimes as all-consuming passions, an expression of their inner souls. Edna will pursue her artistic work of painting and
drawing, not because she wishes to provide pleasure for others, but for her own selfish reasons and as a way of expressing her feelings.