The story opens up with Edna returning to her husband Leonce accompanied by a man named Robert. Robert exclaims how his wife looks burnt, and invited Robert to come to diner with him. Robert politely declines and stays with Edna.
I am going to play a friendly game billiards, tell Robert to leave whenever he bores you.
The hot wind beating in my face made me think of a summer day in Kentucky, of a meadow.
Edna and Adele spend the day at the beach together growing in friendship throughout the day. Edna speaks of her childhood and how the beach scene reminds her a summer where she played in the meadow. She also speaks of motherhood and marriage.
And what were you doing that day?
Edna stumbles into the ocean for the first time. It is here that she feels free from all the burdens of society. Also, she begins to feel defiant as she swims wanting to express who she truly is.
I want to go where no woman has gone before.
Mademoiselle Reisz play a piano piece for Edna. Edna is overwhelmed by emotion and is brought to tears by her masterful piano playing. This begins the friendship of Mademoiselle Reisz and Edna. This is where Edna sees art as a way to express her feelings.
Edna and Leonce's marriage further diverges. As Leonce leaves dinner after arguing with Edna, Edna retreats to her room in a blind rage throwing her wedding ring and breaking a vase out of pure anger.
Leonce does not respect me as an individual. I feel trapped in this marriage.
I know I don't love him, but this is exciting.
Edna has a secret affair with Arobin. However, she still feels she is in love with Robert. Arobin provides a thirll for Edna as she rebels against her marriage and societal standards.