The Awakening Characters
Terms in this set (21)
A forty-year-old, wealthy New Orleans businessman, who is Edna's husband. Although he loves his wife and sons, he spends little time with them because he is often away on business or with his friends. He wears eyeglasses and is of medium height and slender build. Edna marries because he is the first man who expresses affection for her and because she knows it will make her father and older sister angry to marry a Catholic.
The Farival Twins
Fourteen-year-old girls who vacation at Grand Isle with their family and who frequently entertain their fellow guests by playing the piano. 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.
Madame Aline Lebrun
A "fresh, pretty woman, clad always in white with elbow sleeves" (2); the widowed mother of Victor and Robert. She owns and manages the cottages on Grand Isle, which she rents out to exclusive visitors from the «Quartier Français». The novel's characters spend their summer vacations there.
Etienne and Raoul Pontellier
Edna and Léonce's two sons. They are four and five years old, respectively. Edna is "fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way." "She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them" (24).
The twenty-eight-year-old wife of a New Orleans businessman, who grew up in Kentucky. She 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. She is fond of music and drawing/painting. She lives on Esplanade Street with her husband, until her move to the pigeon-house.
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; however, he offers his affections comically and in an over-exaggerated manner (Adèle calls him a «blagueur»), and thus is never taken seriously—until his relationship with Edna.
Edna's close friend, who 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. She has blond hair, blue eyes and red lips.
One of the summer residents of Grand Isle, who irritates Beaudelet by criticizing his knowledge of boating. He is the grandfather of the Farival twins.
A woman to whom Robert had once dedicated himself, who had died between summers.
Monsieur Alphonse Ratignolle
Adèle's husband, who owns and manages a drug store beneath the commodious apartment where he lives with his wife and children. Mr. Ratignolle "stood well in the community and bore an enviable reputation for integrity and clear-headedness" (72).
Edna's younger sister, with whom she often quarreled as a child out of force of habit. Edna refuses to attend her wedding.
Edna's matronly, dignified, practical older sister, who took over the role of a mother figure in Edna's family after their mother died.
The Cavalry Officer
A dignified and sad-eyed cavalry officer who visited Edna's father in Kentucky, with whom Edna was once infatuated. Edna "could not leave his presence when he was there, nor remove her eyes from his face, which was something like Napoleon's, with a lock of black hair falling across the forehead" (23).
An actor with whom Edna becomes infatuated. She used to keep his picture framed on her desk. When alone, she sometimes picked it up and kissed the cold glass passionately.
Robert's wayward younger brother. A «tête montée», he spends his time chasing women and refuses to settle down into a profession.
A talented pianist and somewhat of a recluse, she represents independence and freedom and serves as a sort of muse for Edna.
A young, pretty Spanish girl; a mischievous flirt who lives on Grand Isle. She seems to fancy both Robert and Victor Lebrun. She has a "round, sly, piquant face," "pretty black eyes" and "broad and coarse" feet (44).
A friendly inhabitant of Grand Isle who takes in Edna and Robert after Edna abruptly leaves the Sunday service at the Chênière Caminada. She tells them stories of the Baratarians and the sea. She is fat and can speak no English.
Léonce and Edna's family physician; an old friend of Léonce's. He is one of the few characters who seems to come close to understanding Edna.
Edna's father, a former Confederate officer in the Civil War. He is a strict Protestant and believes that husbands should manage their wives with authority and coercion. He is also an expert at concocting strong drinks. (First mentioned: 89.) She goes with her father to the race course, where she begins to associate with Arobin, Mrs. Merriman and Mrs. Highcamp.
The seductive, charming, and forthright womanizer of the New Orleans Creole community.