"The Doctor doubled his old-fashioned cloak across his breast as he strode home through the darkness. He knew his fellow-creatures better than most men; knew that inner life which so seldom unfolds itself to unanointed eyes."" At this precise moment, the anointed Dr. Mandelet begins to unveil the mystery of Edna Pontellier. Listening to Edna's story "of a woman who paddled away with her lover one night in pirogue and never came back,"" he sees a glimpse of the passions arousing in Edna's heart. Dr. Mandelet comes the closest out of all the men in her life to understanding the intense emotions that she is experiencing. But unable to act on his knowledge, he is left powerless to intercede. Unaware and unable to comprehend the doctor's knowledge, the other men in the novel are obstacles in Edna's pursuit of her ultimate goal. In The Awakening the various men in Edna's life, other than Dr. Mandelet, fail her by taking away what she is striving to attain "independence. .
Throughout the novel, the Colonel's and Leonce's traditional roles in Edna's life deprive her of her quest for independence. Obviously, these two men supply Edna with basic necessities. The colonel gives Edna the requirements for biological life, but nothing beyond that. Edna "was not ver warmly or deeply attached- to her father; she only possesses the vague relationship that is an obligation of any daughter to her father. Because the Colonel provides for Edna's basic needs, he expects her to be remissive and under total authority. In response to Edna's awakening, he gives Leonce the advice that he is " too lenient by far Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard."" This supposedly useful advice not only restricts Edna of her independence, it "coerced his [the Colonel's] own wife into her grave."" Leonce gives Edna many material possessions, such as a "large, double cottage, with a broad front veranda- that Leonce walks about " examining its various appointments and details to see that nothing was amiss.