Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Summary of A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin | Class XII English Note (Exercise)

Lesson: 2

Summary of A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin | Class XII English Note (Exercise)

A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin

Summary

The story ‘A Respectable Woman’ is taken out from her collection 'The Awakening and Other Short Stories'. This short story is structured around a woman and her inner conflict as she finds herself attracted to her husband's friend. The conflict is between what she feels and what social norms dictate.


The story opens when Mrs. Baroda learns that her husband, Gaston, expects a friend of his, Gouvernail to spend a week or two at the plantation. This provokes her. Mrs. Baroda and her husband have entertained a lot of guests during the winter. She is a little disappointed because she wants to have some time alone with her husband.


Mrs. Baroda has heard more about Gouvernail but never seen him. He is her husband’s college friend and now a journalist. She unintentionally forms an image of him in her mind. She pictures him tall, slim and cynical with eyeglasses, and she doesn’t like him. In reality, Gouvernail is slim enough, but he is neither tall nor very cynical. He doesn’t wear eyeglasses, either. She likes him when he first presents himself.


One night Mrs. Baroda sits alone upon a bench that is beneath an oak tree. At the same time, Gouvernail approaches her and gives a scarf sent to her by her husband. After a while, Gouvernail talks of the old college days when he and her husband had been a good deal to each other. Mrs. Baroda is overwhelmed by surprising, affectionate feelings for the guest. She wants to touch him and close to him. The more she thinks of it the further she moves away as she is a respectable woman. Lastly, she leaves and Gouvernail remains alone there.


That night Mrs. Baroda thinks of disclosing her folly to her husband but realizes that she can handle it by herself. She knows there are some battles in life which a human must fight alone. The next morning, she leaves for the city before Gaston wakes up. She does not return home till the guest departs.


Gaston wants to have Gouvernail during the summer that follows, but his wife rejects the idea. However, before the year ends, Mrs. Baroda proposes her husband wholly from herself to have Gouvernail visit them again. Gaston is surprised and delighted with the suggestion coming from his wife. He says that she has overcome her dislikes for Gouvernail. Mrs. Baroda tells him that she has overcome everything and this time she plans to be very nice to their guest.

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. Why was Mrs. Baroda unhappy with the information about Gouvernail’s visit to their farm?

Mrs. Baroda was unhappy with the information about Gouvernail’s visit to their because Mrs. Baroda and her husband have entertained a lot of guests during the winter, and she wants to have some time alone with her husband.

b. How was Gouvernail different from Mrs. Baroda’s expectation?

Mrs. Baroda unintentionally formed an image of him in her mind. She pictured him tall, slim and cynical with eyeglasses, and she didn’t like him. In reality, Gouvernail was slim enough, but he was neither tall nor very cynical. He didn’t wear eyeglasses, either. She liked him when he first presents himself. Thus, Gouvernail is different from Mrs. Baroda’s expectation.

c. How does Mrs. Baroda compare Gouvernail with her husband?

She discovers that Gouvernail sits mute and receptive, but polite wherease Gaston is frank with wordy hospitality.

d. Why and how did Mrs. Baroda try to change Gouvernail’s solitary habits?

She found that Gouvernail had solitary habits. To make him sociable, she accompanied him to the mill and walked along the batture.

e. How does Gaston disagree with his wife on Gouvernail’s character?

Gaston disagrees with his wife on Gouvernail’s character saying that he was clever, and a good person.

f. Why is Gaston surprised with his wife’s expression towards the end of the story?

Gaston is surprised with his wife’s expression towards the end of the story because she proposes, wholly from herself, to have Gouvernail visit them again.

Reference to the context

a. What is the cause of conflict in Mrs. Baroda’s mind? What role does Mrs. Baroda ‘being a respectable woman’ play in the story?

This short story is structured around Mrs. Baroda and her inner conflict as she finds herself attracted to her husband's friend. The conflict is between what she feels and what social norms dictate. Mrs. Baroda learns that her husband, Gaston, expects a friend of his, Gouvernail to spend a week or two at the plantation. This provokes her. Mrs. Baroda and her husband have entertained a lot of guests during the winter. She is a little disappointed because she wants to have some time alone with her husband. But later, she is overwhelmed by surprising, affectionate feelings for Gouvernail. She wants to touch him and close to him. The more she thinks of it the further she moves away as she is a respectable woman.

b. Sketch the character of Gouvernail and contrast it with Gaston.

Gouvernail is Gaston’s college friend, who is a journalist, a society man or a man about town, and a smoker. For Mrs. Baroda, he is a likable man, yet she cannot see the same qualities in him as her husband possesses. She could discover in him none of the brilliant and promising traits which Gaston possesses. Mrs. Baroda sees him as unsociable because he does not seem to be attentive enough to her.

c. Why does Mrs. Baroda not disclose her feelings towards Gouvernail to her husband?

Mrs. Baroda thinks of disclosing her folly to her husband but realizes that she can handle it by herself. She knows there are some battles in life which a human must fight alone. The next morning, she leaves for the city before Gaston wakes up. She does not return home till the guest departs.

d. The last three sentences of the story bring a kind of twist. After reading these three sentences, how do you analyze Mrs. Baroda’s attitude towards Gouvernail?

Gaston wants to have Gouvernail during the summer that follows, but his wife rejects the idea. However, before the year ends, Mrs. Baroda proposes, wholly from herself to have Gouvernail visit them again. Gaston is surprised and delighted with the suggestion coming from his wife. He says that she has overcome her dislikes for Gouvernail. Mrs. Baroda tells him that she has overcome everything and this time she plans to be very nice to their guest.


Mrs. Baroda seems to have regained control of her emotions. Overcoming everything seems to mean that she has overcome not only her displeasure about Gouvernail, but also her unrespectable feelings. However, she tells her husband that she will be very nice on his next visit, she may mean that overcoming her mental restrictions, she has decided to state her desire in favour of having an affair.

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