Some of the slides for today talk about idealized depictions of motherhood and family in the visual arts during the mid-1800s. By the late 1800s, the time of Chopin’s novel, Impressionists painted domestic life in daubed patches of light and color, eroding sharp defined contours and avoiding static poses in favor of fleeting moments. Edna often sees the world as a series short-lived impressions–glistening water, distant umbrellas, hazy memories, colored clumps of flowers and grasses. Objects and even memories are fluid and soft more than permanent and sharp, caught at a particular moment:
The water of the Gulf stretched out before her, gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude. All along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water. (Chopin, Chapter XXXIX)
What does Edna’s impressionist sensibility tell us about her state of mind? How would Edna view Potthas’s On the Beach? What would jump off the canvas for her? How would it make her feel? Would she see it as beautiful? Terrifying? Something more complicated? Would her view suggest depression? Happiness? Do you see the image in the same way that you think Edna would? You don’t have to answer all of these questions, but write a paragraph of two thinking about this image and Edna’s way of seeing the world.