A Respectable Woman Exercise
Discuss the following questions (Before Reading).
a. How do you feel if someone lives in your house as a guest for a long time?
b. Have you ever changed your opinion about a person after meeting her/him?
|tete-a-tete (n. French)||private conversation between two people, usually in an intimate setting|
|cynical (adj.)||concerned only with one's own interests|
|portico (n.)||porch leading to the entrance of a building|
|Corinthian (adj.)||having the characteristics of Corinth in ancient Greece|
|velvety (adj.)||having a smooth, soft appearance, feel, or taste|
|batture (n.)||an alluvial land by a riverside, especially in low land area|
|mabelle (adj.)||French word, equivalent to "my beautiful" in English|
|unconciliated (adj.)||uncompromised, not agreeing|
|cravat (n.)||a short, wide strip of fabric worn by men round the neck inside an open-necked shirt|
|whiff (n.)||a brief and faint smell|
|temptation (n.)||a desire of something wrong or unwise|
|strenuous (adj.)||requiring or using great effort or exertion|
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
Mrs. Broda was not happy with the information about Gouvernail’s visit to their farm because she had worked long hours on the sugar plantation throughout the winter and was looking forward to spending time with her husband. Furthermore, she was anxious about Gouvernail coming to their property since he was a total stranger to her.
b. How was Gouvernail different from Mrs Baroda’s expectation?
Gouvernail was different from Mrs Baroda’s expectation as Mrs Baroda initially thought Gouvernail was confusing and boring, and that he was not the witty man that her husband had told her about. She imagined him to be tall, thin, and cynical, wearing eyeglasses and holding his hands in his pockets, and she disliked him. But one night on her plantation, she had a chat with him that transformed her dislike for him into a wish for connection with him.
c. How does Mrs. Baroda compare Gouvernail with her husband?
Mrs. Baroda compares Gouvernail with her husband by their frankness. Mr. Gaston Baroda, her husband was frank and chatty but Gouvernail was not frank and he was quite silent person.
d. Why and how did Mrs. Baroda try to change Gouvernail’s solitary habits?
Mrs. Baroda became quite tired to find her guest uninterested. She didn't even find any reaction within him when she showed her rude manner of leaving him alone with her husband at first. She tried to change Gouvernail's solitary habits because she wanted him to be more demanding and interesting. For that, she started accompanying him in his idle walks up to the mills and along the batture (an alluvial land by a riverside, especially in low land areas).
e. How does Gaston disagree with his wife on Gouvernail's character?
Gaston disagrees with his wife because she takes Gourernail's characters as less intresting and shy figure rather he proves him to be a out standing, sociable, interesting and talkative character.
f. Why is Gaston surprised with his wife's expression towards the end of the story?
At the end of the story, Mrs. Baroda's remarks on Mr. Gouvernail surprises Mr. Gaston. In the past, Mrs. Baroda left home because of Mr. Gouvernail's behaviors. She didn't return back home until he had gone. Even she expressed her strong dissatisfaction when Mr. Gaston wanted to invite him again in the summer. But by the end of the year, Mrs. Baroda expressed her interest to call Mr. Gouvernail again. Mr. Gaston was surprised and delighted with suggestion from his wife. She said that she had overcome her dislike to Mr. Gouvernail and promised to be very nice to him. This is why Gaston is surprised with his wife's expression towards the end of the story.
- Check: A Respectable Woman Summary
Reference to the context
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.
From the short story "A Respectable Woman", we can find that Gouvernail in the present is a journalist. He is not as social as his friend Gaston since he does not appear to pay enough attention to the people around him. Gaston is the story's only supporting character. He highly appreciates his friend Gouvernail, describing him as "intelligent" and a "man of ideas" to his wife.
c. Why does Mrs Baroda not disclose her feelings towards Gouvernail to her husband?
Mrs Baroda does not disclose her feelings towards Gouvernail to her husband because she appears in the story as a respectable woman. To be respectable woman she has to follow the norms and values of the society. Mrs. Baroda is well aware that society would view her actions because she is a married woman. Her beliefs about what makes a woman respectable in society take priority over her feelings and desires. Her fear of what society might think of her and her perception that she is a respectable woman prevented Mrs. Baroda from telling her husband about her emotions for Gouvernail.
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?
The last three sentences of the story which are Mrs. Baroda’s declaration, “I have overcome everything! You will see. This time I shall be very nice to him” bring a twist in the story as these lines suggest that Mrs. Baroda has not been able to forget Gouvernail. This ambiguous statement of Mrs. Baroda can be interpreted as her victory to overcome the fear of social rules, morality, and ethics which were preventing her from expressing her love to Gouvernail. That means she has taken the final decision in the favour of her personal romantic feelings for Gouvernail.
Reference Beyond The Context
a. The entry of an outsider into a family has been a recurring subject in both literature and films. Narrate a story real or imaginative where an outsider’s arrival destroys the intimate relationship between the husband and the wife and causes break up in marital relationship without direct fault of anyone. Anton’s Chekhov’s story ‘About Love’ is a story on this subject.
The story of "About Love" has been written by Russian writer Anton Chekhov. "About Love" is a story about love affairs. Here in this story, the third love story somewhat reflects the same ideas as seen in the story of Kate Chopin's "A Respectable Woman".
As time passes, Alyohin realizes the gravity of his actions and the consequences they have brought upon the Luganovich family. The once-intimate relationship between Dimitry and Anna has been shattered by Alyohin's presence and his growing affection for Anna. Despite not directly intending to cause harm, Alyohin's entry into their lives has disrupted the delicate balance of their marriage.
Dimitry, sensing the emotional distance between himself and Anna, becomes increasingly suspicious of their relationship. He notices their secret glances, their whispered conversations, and the growing emotional tension in their interactions. While he cannot pinpoint the exact nature of their connection, Dimitry feels a growing unease within himself.
Anna, torn between her loyalty to her husband and her feelings for Alyohin, finds herself in a state of constant inner turmoil. She cherishes the attention and affection Alyohin showers upon her, feeling a sense of liberation and passion she hasn't experienced in years. However, the guilt and fear of betraying her husband weigh heavily on her conscience.
Unable to bear the strain any longer, Dimitry confronts Anna about his suspicions. Anna, caught off guard and guilt-ridden, tries to reassure him of her fidelity, denying any romantic involvement with Alyohin. She insists that their relationship is purely platonic, but Dimitry's trust has already been eroded.
The atmosphere at home becomes tense and strained. The once-loving couple now struggles to communicate openly and honestly. The marital foundation they had built together begins to crumble under the weight of suspicion and doubt. Despite their attempts to salvage their relationship, the damage has been done, and the rift between them widens with each passing day.
Alyohin, burdened by guilt and remorse, realizes the magnitude of the pain he has caused. He regrets his actions and understands that his love for Anna has come at a great cost to the Luganovich family. Despite his genuine feelings, he knows that he cannot continue to be the source of their suffering.
In a bittersweet farewell, Alyohin visits Anna one last time before she leaves for Creamea. They share a tearful goodbye, filled with both love and sorrow. Alyohin confesses his deep affection for her, apologizing for the havoc he has wreaked upon her marriage. Anna, torn between her love for Alyohin and her commitment to her husband, bids him farewell, knowing that their paths can no longer intertwine.
The departure of Anna marks the end of an era for the Luganovich family. The break-up of their once-intimate relationship was not caused by any direct fault of either Dimitry or Anna but was a consequence of the arrival of Alyohin, the outsider. They are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered marriage, attempting to rebuild their trust and find solace in the remnants of what was once a loving bond.
The story of Alyohin, Anna, and Dimitry serves as a poignant reminder of how the intrusion of an outsider, driven by unrequited love, can unravel the fabric of an otherwise harmonious marital relationship. It highlights the complexities of human emotions and the fragility of love, leaving a lasting impact on all those involved.
b. Mrs. Baroda makes an expectation about Gouvernail even before meeting him. Suppose you are a mature girl/boy and your family members are giving you pressure for getting married. Write in about 200 words describing what qualities you would like to get in your future husband/wife.
Marriage is a sacred relationship between two people. It is a union of two or more people that creates a family tie and carries legal, social or religious rights and responsibilities. Before marriage, we need to think as well as know about the person with whom we are going to get married. It is a lifelong relationship that's why we have to choose a perfect life partner.
If I get pressure from my family members for getting married, I would like to have the following qualities in my future wife.
1. Lovable and caring:
My future wife must be lovable and caring. She must be lovable and caring for all my family members.
2. Well mannered:
She must be well mannered. She should be polite and well mannered to all.
She must be beautiful not only from her physical appearance but also from her heart. She should be outstanding in performing the role in the family.
4. Responsible and respectable:
She must be a responsible and respectable wife. She must know her responsibilities towards family and spend her life being a respectable wife.
She must be highly qualified and know the way of educating others. She must have the quality of making others realize the importance of education in life.