Regret is about a woman named Mamzelle Aurelie, she stands out among other women of her time since she’s unmarried, childless and owns her own farm. She is seemingly happy with her arrangement but once she looks after a neighbor’s children she has a moment of regret.
Marriage and children. Something society expects everyone to do and have. And, for women, these two factors nearly define their entire existence. Well Kate Chopin often looks into this issue with her writing.
And in “Regret” the reader is introduced to the quintessential independent woman, Mamzelle Aurelie. Unlike the women of her time she doesn’t obsess over marriage: “Mamzelle Aurelie had never thought of marrying. She had never been in love. At the age of twenty she had received a proposal, which she had promptly declined, and at the age of fifty she had not yet lived to regret it.”
Women often had to receive their identity through marriage and children. But Mamzelle, on the other hand, finds it through other things such as: “the fowls, the few cows, a couple of mules, her gun (with which she shot chicken-hawks), and her religion.”
However, no matter how independent someone is there’s perhaps a deep desire for some kind of close companionship and family. This desire gets triggered when Mamzelle looks after a neighbor’s children. They’re a nuisance at first but then: “It took her some days to become accustomed to the laughing, the crying, the chattering that echoed through the house and around it all day.”
Yes, she grows to like having children around and is saddened when they leave.
So what is the text saying? That Mamzelle’s independence is fake and just like most women supposedly do she desires to have little children of her own?
No, I doubt that is the point of the story. Despite her independence, Mamzelle is still human. And human beings feel loneliness. Yes, the main character is having a moment of regret but she knows she must live with her decisions she had made in in life.
Which is why she is described as “crying like a man”. Men are often expected to face responsibility and deal with their problems on their own. Since Aurelie has took on a “masculine” role she must do this as well.
The end sentence of the story states: “she did not notice Ponto licking her hand.” Ponto, is her dog and represents a piece of the farm. Her not noticing the dog could mean that, for a woman, almost nothing can replace the joy of children.
However, I don’t think this is the case. The hand lick is simply a reminder that Mamzelle must go back to responsibilities (the farm) as a man would be expected to do. The moment of regret will pass, and as expected of the men, she must get back to work.