The Awakening

In detail, explain how the flashbacks to Edna's past function. How does her father compare to the other men in her life?

Edna's had flash backs of her past

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The flashbacks develop Edna's character. We get a glimpse into her inner feelings and motivations that we don't see because of the social/emotional constraints of her reality. Consider chapter 16. In this chapter, Mademoiselle Reisz asks Edna if she misses Robert, which causes her to have a series of flashbacks, each having some sort of connection to how she feels about Robert's absence. Everyone takes it for granted that Edna misses Robert because they assume that their relationship had simply been one of married woman/adoring young man. That type of relationship fits seamlessly into the Creole social order. However, with Robert and Edna's relationship, there is not the same kind of gap between external appearances and emotional reality. Robert and Edna feel things for each other, which is unusual in their Creole culture, which mandates that the married woman/young man relationship be one of one-sided adoration, innocent flirtation, and chastity. Because everyone assumes that their relationship was of the conventional sort, Edna is able to talk about Robert constantly, even with her husband.I suppose the Colonel (Edna's father) is the opposite of men in her life like Edna's mild husband (consumed with making money) and the adoring Robert. The Colonel is reckless with money and domineering to his wife.