Creole Men In The Awakening
In Kate Chopins novel, The Awakening the characters of the Creole men are diverse and different as the character Edna.
Most of Kate Chopins stories center around a Woman unsatisfied with her position in life, while living in a man dominated society. The three main characters are typical men of that era. Chopin shows the diversity in each of those three characters. Roberts awakening, and the struggle to do what is the right thing. Alcee and how he is carefree and not concerned with societys expectations of him, and so has a reputation. Mr. Pontiller, a business man first and foremost, with little left for wife and family.
Robert did the right and noble thing by leaving to go to Mexico so as to not have to see the object of his forbidden love.
Alcee sees Edna as another one of his conquest, and does not give up, pursuing her at all cost. Alcee has not concern of what society thinks of him so he is able to do as he pleases.
Mr. Pontieller, while he believes himself to be a kind husband, is a typical businessman of the era. He wants his wife to obey him. He wants the perfect Creole wife, one who can help him excel in the business world he loves so much.
In exploring these three men in Kate Chopins The Awakening, there are certain aspects of each, while different, the same. All live in the 1800s were morale reputation was considered to be the utmost importance to the
businessman, yet, Alcee seems unconcerned with any morale or business responsibility. In exploring the character of Robert who seems to be at a crossroad in his life. Search for his fortune, find a wife, prosper and be respectable, or, do the unthinkable and follow his heart.
Mr. Pontellier is the typical Creole husband and businessman.
Leonce is convinced that fulfilling monetary needs excuses the paucity of time he spends with the children, never presuming that some needs cannot be monetarily satisfied: He has his hands full with his brokerage business making a living for his family on the street(885)} Even to himself, Leonces thought smack of the self-pity of the empowered. Perhaps because he is aware of his own neglect, Leonce projects his guilt onto Edna, expecting flawless mammal performance on her part to remedy his domestic absence. (Patrsn, Out Of A Convention of Awakening, np)
Patterson describes Leonce has having self-pity due to his empowererment. With the privileges of wealth and social standing comes self-debasement. Leonce is so caught up in his own ideals that he fails to see his reaction to his wife, and children. He is caught in turmoil between society and having no other way out.
Then Mr. Pontellier got up, saying he had half a mind to go over to Kliens hotel and play a game of billiards. (Chopin, 174) Leonce does not spend time with his family while at the summer cottage, having never cultivated intimacy with his children and wife, Leonce would rather be with the boys, having fun, doing his own thing, leaving all the everyday responsibilities to his wife, or hired help.
Leonce is out of his element when not doing business. While at home Leonce expects his wife to be attentive to his every word, treating him more like a prospective business partner than her husband. Leonce does not accept Ednas lack of attention, and gets at her the only way he can, through her children. Leonce has a chance to vent his discouragement toward his wife. He thought it very discouraging that his wife, the sole object of his existence, envinviced so little interest in things which concerned him and valued so little his conversation. (177) He reproached his wife with inattentions (178) It is obvious that Ednas inattentions where of Leonce and not the children. Leonce wanted to get at his wife from her lack of interest in his time at Kliens. This behavior is somewhat indicative of a selfish person, looking to his own needs, or someone who does not have a clue about intimacy. After he reproaches Edna he goes outside and smokes a cigar like it was the most natural thing in the world to do. (178) The real event is that Leonce has gotten even with his wife, for her inattention to him. Later the next day Leonce feels somewhat guilty for his outburst towards his wife He had regained his composure which seemed to have been somewhat impaired the night before. (179) Leonce knows that he acted emotionally as being out of sorts describes. Leonce does not tell his wife
anything, but later sends her a gift package as if to make up to her what had happened. Leonce was in turmoil, regarding his actions, although Leonce is still choosing to remain aloof towards Edna. How generic, sending a gift with out a
word of apology. Leonce has no idea how badly he has behaved in sending a gift without a word of apology; it is as though he were trying to mend a business relation. Leonces whole character is that of a man who has no intimacy with wife or children. A successful business is what he loves, what has become his whole life. Leonce’s only reason for marrying was to help him in his business, stable married man, father, and beautiful obedient wife. Leonce has another lover, his business. Leonce is so worried that his business will suffer if Edna leaves the house, he wrote writes to tell him she is leaving the house. Leonce immediately writes a letter of unqualified disapproval and remonstrance. (316) Leonce is not thinking about what this action will do to his reputation. No Leonce is thinking about his financial integrity (316) Leonce demonstrates again the lack of intimacy for his wife, were his business is concerned. Leonce is afraid if this gets out that his business will suffer. Leonce strategically makes a plan to save face and gives Edna minute instructions-to a well-known architect concerning the remodeling of his home, changes which he had long contemplated, and which he desired carried forward during his temporary absence (316)
Leonce is a self-absorbed businessman. Leonce believes, that he adores his wife and children. What he adores is what they do for him in his business. A
good reputation went a long way during the 1800’s in which he lived. Leonce is quick to remedy any obstacle that will get in the way of his business. Leonce is a man of the 1800s through and through. Chopin has given a glimpse of the
Alcee a single man who lives life as he pleases. Alcee has chosen to become a rogue of society, not adhering to the social norm that most men in that time period adhered to.
On one end of the socio-political spectrum is the unmarried Creole man who shares an intimate moment with a married woman, an experience that inspires a physco-sexual awakening in both. Introduced as a special rebel, this Creole bachelor has created for himself an unconventional public image, which separates him
from the more conventional Creole men. In fact, his unconventionality serves as a stimulus for the awakening in the woman he encounters. (Brown, Awakened Men In Kate Chopins Creole Stories, np)
Alcee wants the freedom to do what he wants. He seems to be a man of means and so does not have to work in order to have material possessions. On the contrary,
and inquired if he were related to the gentleman of that name who formed one of the firm of Laitner and Arobin, lawyers. The
young man admitted that Laitner was a warm personal friend, who
permitted Arboins name to decorate the firms letterheads and to appear upon a shingle that graced Perdido Street (307-308)
Alcee had income from a law firm for which he did not work. Alcee was a 19th century playboy, while living in an 18th century society. Alcee had a reputation among the Creoles. Now if I were like Arobin you remember Alcee Arobin and that story of the consuls wife at Biloxi (201) Alcee seems to focused his attentions on Edna and then pursues her, with no regard for her reputation Alcee instinctively knows when a woman is not content with her place in life. Alcee uses his charm and understanding friendship to gain the trust of these women. Alcee takes them out every night to the races, the club, or just for a drive. Alcee gives them his attentions with out demanding payback. This behavior is not uncommon with men who consider themselves a Ladys Man.
His hand had strayed to her beautiful shoulders, and he could feel the response of her flesh to his touch he seated himself beside her and her lightly upon the shoulder. I thought you were going away, she said, in an uneven voice. I am, after I have said goodnight.
Goodnight, she murmured. He did not answer, except to continue to caress her. He did not say good night until she had become supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties. (315-316)
Alcee had his reputation for being with married women. Alcee chooses women who are married, leaving him with no responsibility for their welfare when he was finished with them. Alcee is concerned with conquest. It is as if Alcee wants to live up to his reputation, to show that he can. Alcee was an exciting man to be with, preferring the game of seduction to the actual seduction itself.
Robert Lebrun is a most complex individual. He spends summers on Grande Island with his mother and brother. Robert is infatuated with the
married women at the cottages. Robert..had constituted himself the devoted attendant of some fair dame or damsel. Sometimes it was a young girl, again a widow; but often as not it was some interesting married woman. (185) Robert is a good friend to these women. Robert is never taken seriously by the married women though. It was understood that he had often spoke words of love and devotion to Madame Ratignolle, without any thought of being taken seriously. (186) Robert wants to be taken seriously, knowing what it would mean to the woman. Robert is trying to fulfill a secret desire, what to become in this life. Robert knows his intentions go on deaf ears, until the day that Madame Ratignolle talks with him about Edna.
His faced flushed with annoyance and taking off his soft hat he began to beat it impatiently against his leg as he walked Why
shouldnt she take me seriously? he demanded sharply. Am I a comedian, a clown, a jack-in-the-box? Why shouldnt she? You
Creoles! I have no patience with you! Am I always to be regarded as a feature of an amusing programme? I hope Mrs. Pontillier does take me seriously. I hope she has discernment enough to find in me something besides the blaguer. If I thought there was any doubt- (200)
Robert is awakened to the idea that Edna may take him seriously. Why would Ednas friend tell him this if something had not been said? Robert is starting to think about what if. Roberts infatuations are stirring in him a desire to find the right path and, now there are two paths to follow. Roberts intentions were quite never real to him, until that day when Madame Ratignolle had spoken of Edna. Robert laughs about it at first, and even assures Madame Ratignolle, that there is no earthly way of Mrs. Pontillier ever taking me seriously (201) Robert does the proper thing at first, then he cannot help but being near the object of his desire. Robert would stay away from Edna sometimes an entire day, then redouble his devotions as if to make up for lost time. (211) Robert can not stay away from Edna, he has become to infatuated with the idea that Edna has taken him seriously. Robert was more a friend to Edna than Alcee, for Ednas children adored Robert (199). Robert was a kind soul, and yet, there is nothing kind in his motivations toward Edna. Robert is stuck, he continues his friendship with Edna, but things start to change for him. He realizes that he is in
love with Edna, a married woman. This realization leads Robert to go to Mexico. Robert knows that nothing will ever come of the relationship so he leaves. Robert has chosen to do the right thing and get away from the desire of his heart. Robert cannot be near his desire and he thinks that by leaving to go to anther country that will help him. Robert is quite mistaken though. Roberts desire for Edna brings him back to the city. Robert cannot bear to be away from Edna, and he cannot bear to be near her. Robert is confused by his feelings; he seeks out a friend, someone whom he can talk with. Robert is quite taken back when the object of his desire is at the same place he has gone for refuge. Robert wants so much to tell Edna of his feelings for her but cannot permit himself to do so. Roberts feeling betray him and he finds himself getting anxious and wanting to leave the company of his beloved Edna. Robert uses an excuse to keep from staying with her (325), then sees the hurt look and changes his mind. Robert cannot bear to hurt Edna. Robert has elevated Edna on a pedestal of total morality, and feels that he has no right to be with her. Robert is truly a gentleman, yet when he realizes that Edna has changed toward her ideas and has become friends with Alcee, Robert feelings suddenly start to change, even unknown to him. Robert proclaims his love for Edna, his desire to marry her, thinking that this is what Edna would want.
You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr. Pontellier
setting me free! I am no longer one of Mr. Pontelliers possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, here Robert, take her and be happy, she is yours, I should laugh at you both. His face grew a little white. What do you mean? he asked. (339)
Robert is on an emotional roller coaster ride. Edna has proclaimed her love for him, as he has for her, yet, this new idea that has come out of Edna is making Robert wonder. He is still deeply moved by this acceptance of mutual love. Roberts desire is like a storm that cannot be quenched. Robert does not care what Edna is saying Robert wants her. The knock on the door brings Robert back to his senses, slowly at first, and then Robert knows what he must do. Robert believes that Edna and Alcee have become lovers. Alcees picture was there, Alcee comes there while Robert is there, and the evidence is overwhelming. Robert sees a change in Edna, yet he cannot escape the passion that he feels for her. Robert begs Edna to stay with him, she does not. It is here that Robert reevaluates what he wants and what he is doing. Robert has finally chosen the right path for himself. Being the devoted friend that he was Robert leaves a two-line note to Edna, and goes back to Mexico. Robert made the right choice; he is a true 1800s man.
Kate Chopin shows the men of that time era in which she lived. She has given glimpses of what life would be like which each type of man. These are only
Three of the characters in The Awakening, Chopin has created many men in her short stories as well. Mr. Pontieller, Alcee Arobin, and Robert Lebrun, were all men of that time period, but just as now were all unique and different. This story has a tragic ending for more than the heroine, but as for the men as well. Mr. Pontieller is the least effected emotionally by his wives dealth, although sympathy for him is overwhelming in the way of having had so tragic a loss, suicide or not. Mr. Pontieller will certainly find the way to profit from Ednas indiscretion, as he has in the past. Mr Pontieller will remarry as soon as the proper mourning period has passed. Leonce has his two sons to think about, they will need a mother. Meanwhile Leonces mother will keep the boys with her so Leonce can conduct business as usual.
Alcee will truly miss his friend in only a way that he can. Alcee will mourn her loss for a while, then his attentions will be drawn to some other woman, and Edna will be long forgotten.
Robert will take it the hardest, as he truly loved her. Robert will not blame himself totally, but will harbor some guilt. Robert will mourn Ednas loss and not listen to gossip of mental instability from others as they talk about her. Robert will take a long time to find another love, but eventually and without understanding why, he will find the love of his life, thinking on occasion of Edna.
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