Edna goes to the horse races with Alc?e Arobin (see Dr. Mandelets concern in Chapter XXIII), a “young [man] of fashion” who much admires her. Edna finds the races exciting as she bets large sums of money and captures the attention of fellow race-goers, eager for “the elusive but ever-desired tip.” After the races, Edna dines with Arobin and the Highcamps, a socially well-to-do but personally dull couple who, for instance, cannot understand why their daughter-whom Mrs. Highcamp uses to meet men such as Arobin-chose a Dante reading over the race track. Perhaps the Highcamps represent a further critique of les convenances.
Arobin escorts Edna home. Edna, far from being tired, is eager for “something to happen.” A notable detail tells the reader that, while the Highcamps dinner was “of excellent quality, [it] had lacked abundance,” and Edna still finds herself hungry-surely, a hunger to be understood metaphorically as well as literally. Edna regrets allowing Arobin to leave her. However, she and Arobin spend an afternoon together a few days later. The two quickly become close, but Edna eventually asks him to leave, protesting that she does not like him, even though she knows her words lack “dignity and sincerity.” Arobin apologizes for being misled by his emotions, and leaves after casting “one last appealing glance at her, to which she [makes] no response.” The narrator informs us that Arobins manner “was so genuine that it often deceived even himself,” leaving us to wonder how true his feelings for Edna are-and reminding us, again, of Madame Ratignolles caution to Robert in Chapter VIII. Is Alc?e Arobin, like Robert, one of those men who mislead women? For her part, Edna experiences feelings of guilt regarding her near infidelity. But she feels she has been unfaithful, not to her husband, but to Robert.