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Those evenings infused with singing, eating and dancing, solidified and preserved Creole culture. This may come as a shock to non-Creole visitors to this paradise on Earth. Pontellier comes to life as a woman. Two aspects of this awakening need further analysis: its location and its agent. Neither is she ready to accept the consequences of sexual freedom she craves. Unlike the fairytale predecessor, Edna is woken up seemingly not by a dominant male figure but by a man serving food.
The reversed division of gender roles around food production and consumption is misleading here it is a man who prepares a meal for a woman , if not falsely supporting Edna in her emancipatory endeavors. This gender role reversal around food preparation simply hides a different codification of the asymmetry between the genders. This scene not only alludes to the man as the giver and woman as the recipient of pleasure, but it also explicitly alludes to one appetite physical hunger representing another carnal desire. Quite interestingly, Mrs. This transformation is visible during dinner with Doctor Mandelet, the long-time family physician.
Alcohol thus transforms a potentially hostile culinary experience into a pleasant evening. Pontellier no longer respectfully obeys her husband. More importantly, Edna shows no sign of remorse or guilt about either neglecting her duties or refusing to retain one of the cardinal feminine duties—wifely submissiveness.
Edna transfers her satisfaction with winning some degree of personal autonomy to her sheer pleasure of consuming soup. The solitary meal serves as a vehicle of celebration of her newly-discovered personhood. The delicious feeling of knowing what she wants from her life certainly finds representation in the comfort and pleasure of dining alone. Edna gathers her friends in order to celebrate and share her forging of a new life on her 29 th birthday. The hostess, who unites all the guests, sits at the head of the table, like a priestess.
In a social context, food can communicate even more than language itself. Before the food, which constitutes the heart of the ritual, the scenery and atmosphere are so sensuous that only synesthesia can do justice to describing the event. The table itself captures a pronounced Dionysian imagery:.
There was something extremely gorgeous about the appearance of the table, an effect of splendor conveyed by a cover of pale yellow satin under strips of lace-work. There were wax candles in massive brass candelabra, burning softly under yellow silk shades; full, fragrant roses, yellow and red, abounded. There were silver and gold, as she had said there would be, and crystal which glittered like the gems which the women wore. There was a soft fall of lace encircling her shoulders. It was the color of her skin, without the glow, the myriad living tints that one may sometimes discover in vibrant flesh.
There was something in her attitude, in her whole appearance when she leaned her head against the high-backed chair and spread her arms, which suggested the regal woman, the one who rules, who looks on, who stands alone. In her ability to create sexual attraction and take delight in her sensual nature Edna can be identified with Aphrodite. That should be the climax, yet the dinner does not end here.
The carnivalesque laughter and frolicking, together with the strong emotional and sensual atmosphere, is brought to an end by Victor Lebrun. Her epiphany centers on the disagreement between social demands and her own desires.
The spilling of the wine—the nectar of the gods—destroys the atmosphere of conviviality and celebration. With the wine not consumed to celebrate new life, but rather squandered, in an instant the heroine is reduced from heavenly perfection to mortal fallibility. The guests disperse, as they are unable to either understand or help Edna. Thus, the changeability of identity is reflected in dietary habits.
In such surroundings Edna welcomes Robert with an ordinary dinner, after his sojourn in Mexico Chopin, , Her food grows simpler, as she becomes socially degraded. Even though in the end the heroine proves that she is not ready to define her destiny without taking into account social opinions, she does not want to be with a man who obliquely reproduces the patriarchal patterns.
Easterling , P. Easterling, ed. Wimsatt , Mary Ann. The JFKI grant enabled me to conduct extensive research about Southern foodways as well as about the sociology and anthropology of food. In traditional societies women are discouraged from eating out, whereas affluent men can freely enjoy dinners outside their homes Warde and Martens, , Chopin, , Eating together means sharing and participating. American Studies Journal. Senses of the South. Polycarpe et ses C. Cyrille et Julien. Pierre Nolaque. Aventin, solitaire.
Read e-book Le lien du désir - Un mariage en Louisiane (Passions) (French Edition)
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