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PLOT ANALYSIS (Structure)
The plot of this short novel is exquisitely crafted. The action is swift; not a detail is left out or left over. Each chapter builds on the realistic and psychological stakes of the previous one. As the tension builds, the reader becomes aware of a complexity that is never really explained, but alluded to in such terms--both trivial and profound--that the "realism" is unmistakable.
Chopin moves effortlessly from exposition to dialogue. The dialogues build from previous dialogues: much is revealed in what people say or do not say. The exposition, often coming in the form of Edna's emotions or thoughts, both present and comment on the rising action.
The movement of the narrative back to Grand Isle at the end brings the novel full circle. Edna returns to the site of her first "awakening" since she can no longer sleep. It is again noteworthy that Chopin leaves much of the "reading" of Edna up to the reader. One can argue that her suicide is tragedy, ultimate release, pure circumstance or all three. Chopin seems more interested in complicating an old story (a married woman falls in love with a single young man) than in presenting any answers to some very human questions.