Recall the figure of Adèle Ratignolle, the ‘mother woman’ from Chopin’s novella The Awakening
Choose a character, persona or speaker from ONE prescribed text that you have studied in Module C. Express the thought processes of this character, persona or speaker by exploring a moment of tension in the text from an alternative point of view.
What if it is? My God, better that Alphonse should be here and see it for himself than be brought in and I have to explain from childbed. Or worse, that stupid nurse talks. She hasn’t so far, but you can’t tell with those people.
You can’t tell with anyone. That’s the whole point about this stupid misadventure. I can’t even tell about myself. I can tell myself, but I can’t tell about myself. I’m raving. Pain, this is how pain deranges you. They say it’s a woman’s punishment for the sins of Eve. Mandelet says you don’t have to put up with it anymore. They can use morphine and some other thing; you come around with only the vague memory of pain and, voila, a baby in your arms. And only the nurse’s word that it’s yours.
I can’t – I can’t…I can’t afford to be forgetful for even a second. I can imagine it – I come to and find myself put aside, abandoned, Alphonse staring at the tiny thing and knowing. Oh God, no. It’s too much of a risk.
Did that wail come from me? Every time, I surprise myself. Under the frills, the perfume and starch, the spotless linen, there’s an animal, and pain. Maybe the animal is pain, or an animal in pain, or…I’m raving again.
Why do I get myself into these ridiculous situations?
Because I’m an animal. The treacherous Eve, who breeds and feeds and lies and beguiles and—God, where is Mandelet? And what is that nurse doing? The smell of cologne water makes me ill. And Edna, poor, stupid, naïve Edna with her sensitivities and her daubing and panting after Robert Lebrun. Come here, you silly little fool, and watch the anguish of one who thought herself mistress of love. Look at the sweat, dear – it’s not pain, but fear, and learn. Husbands, like the sign that you’re not expecting a child, are inconvenient, but they’re regular and necessary and even the silliest woman can manage them by keeping them close. Cast a husband away and what do you have? The state I’m now in, but without anyone to pay the doctor, bring you flowers, build that delightful garden wall of respectability behind which you can do anything – with discretion. Edna lacks discretion. Her preposterous obsession with integrity, honesty – as if these things were necessary for a marriage. Let her look. Let her wake up to herself.
Ah, God, it comes! I have only moments let of this, the whole world I have built. Alphonse is still not here; if he misses it – if it is,and chere Saint Agnes, let it not be – quelle cauchemar! If he misses it, the Griffe could take it away…No, no, that would be adding more sin to the pile. We must expect to pay for our actions at some point.
Why did I assure him my family was French through and through? Stupid, stupid girl! All that vain confidence in fidelity, all your belief at nineteen that a husband will be enough, more than enough – all. Nothing, no one, is ever enough when the fire is in your blood. Ah…Mandelet! And aaaah!!
My God, give me my…..give it to me now!! Is it? Is it? Open your eyes, my angel! My ruddy little….ah! Thank God!
It is not. It’s not. Not. Not. I am safe. We are safe. My child, my beautiful child. Alphonse’s child. Come, my tiny angel, lay on my breast and I will lay down a road of promises to heaven that I will never again betray my husband with a black man.