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Kate Chopin's "A Respectable Woman" Summary

Kate Chopin's, A Respectable Woman Summary Class 12 English. The short story is structured around the character of Mrs.Baroda and her inner conflict

A Respectable Woman Summary

Kate Chopin's "A Respectable Woman” Summary Class 12 English.

The short story ‘A Respectable Woman’ is structured around the character of Mrs.Baroda and her inner conflict as she finds herself attracted to her husband's friend. The conflict follows the pattern of classical fiction and moves from exposition to rising action and then to climax and resolution.

About the Author

Kate Chopin, original name Katherine O’Flaherty (1851-1904) was an American novelist and short-story writer. She was born and brought up in St. Louis and lived in New Orleans after getting married to Oscar Chopin. Her first novel At Fault appeared in 1890 and the second novel The Awakening in 1899. She wrote more than 100 short stories and among them, ‘Disiree’s Baby’, ‘Madame Celestin’s Divorce’ and ‘A Respectable Woman’ are more anthologized than others. The language in her novels and short stories is full of sexual connotations and her novel The Awakening was condemned for its sexual frankness and the publishers had refrained from publishing it. Later after 1950, her works were reinterpreted and she was praised for depicting modern sensibility. The story ‘A Respectable Woman’ is taken out from her collection The Awakening and Other Short Stories (2005).

Kata Chopin Portrait

Characters of the Story

  • Mrs. Baroda: The protagonist, a married woman grappling with her desires and societal expectations.
  • Gouvernail: A friend of Mrs. Baroda's husband, whose presence triggers Mrs. Baroda's inner conflict.
  • Gaston Baroda: Mrs. Baroda's husband, who invites Gouvernail to stay at their plantation.


The story takes place on a sugar plantation during the winter time.


Kate Chopin's, A Respectable Woman Summary is given as:

Short Summary:

Mrs. Baroda was unhappy to hear about Gouvernail's visit to their plantation. Her husband Gaston's information about Gouvernail made her upset because she had planned to take a rest and converse after their busy winter and mild separation. 

Mrs. Baroda unconsciously pictured him to be slim, tall, cynical with eyeglasses and hands into his pockets. She didn't like him in her imagination. When Gouvernail arrived and presented himself, Mrs. Baroda was fascinated by him. But she found him quite different in various aspects.  She became quite puzzled and exhausted to find Gouvernail's simple and reserved personality. Gouvernail behaved quite simply and didn't pay much attention to Mrs. Baroda. She also discussed his reserved nature with her husband. She even tried to avoid him but there was no change in Gouvernail's nature.

One night, she was sitting on a bench alone. She planned to leave the plantation for a while. In the meantime, Gouvernail arrived there and sat just beside her. He provided her with a scarf on Gaston's behalf. He started talking about the nighttime, the olden days and his liking for peaceful living. Mrs. Baroda found him talkative for the first time. She didn't listen to his words but felt attracted to his voice's tones. She wanted to reach out her hand towards him and touch his face or lips with her sensitive tips of fingers. She wanted to whisper on his cheek. But she controlled herself. Her self-dignity of being a respectable woman and wife prevented her doing this great mistake. She stood and left the place. 

Mrs. Baroda took a morning train to the city before arising Gaston. She did not return till Gouvernail was gone from under her roof. She returns home when Gouvernail departs.

After some months, Gaston again wants to invite Gouvernail to his plantation but he doesn’t do it because of his wife. He thinks that his wife will become angry. However, before the year ended, she herself proposed to her husband to invite Gouvernail to visit again. Her husband was surprised and delighted with the suggestion coming from her and said that I am glad to know that finally you can overcome your dislike and kiss her lips. In the replay, she said that I have overcome everything and This time I shall be very nice to him.

Complete Long Summary

The story ‘A Respectable Woman’ has been written by Kate Chopin. Kate Chopin was an American novelist and short story writer. The language which she used in her stories and novels are full of sexual connotations.  The short story revolves around the character of Mrs. Baroda and her inner conflict as she finds herself attracted to her husband's friend Gouvernail. The conflict follows the pattern of classical fiction and moves from exposition to rising action and then to climax and resolution.

Mrs. Baroda finds Mr. Gouvernail staying with them in sugar plantation. She is dissatisfied that they have been doing a lot of fun. She has hoped to take rest but. She is also upset because her husband's friend Gouvernail is planning to stay a week or two at their plantation. She has never met Gouvernail, despite the fact that she is aware that Gouvernail and her husband were friends in college and that he is now a successful journalist. Before the meeting Mrs. Badora has a mental image of him as a ‘tall, slim, cynical; with eye-glasses, and his hands in his pockets.’  But a paradoxical thing happens after then. When she meets Gouvernail, who is slim but neither tall nor cynical, she discovers that she really likes him.

Mrs. Baroda gets wondered that why she loves Gouvernail since he makes no special effort to impress her in any other way. In the same way, she is unsure why she likes Gouvernail because she does not see all of his positive characteristics. He doesn't appear intelligent, but in reaction to her excitement to welcome him and her husband's hospitality, he appears quiet and kind. He loves sitting on the field and listening to Gaston explaining sugar plantation methods. He does not seem to be very bright, but he does appear calm and polite.

Mrs. Baroda finds Gouvernail to be a little confusing, yet she finds him to be charming and unoffensive. Unlike what she has heard from her husband Gaston, she finds him, way better than heard. She first leaves him alone with her husband, but as she works to overcome his nervousness, she begins to accompany him on walks. Her husband informs her that he will be staying another week and inquires as to why she does not want him to. Gaston is delighted when she says that she prefers him to be more demanding.

Mrs. Baroda claims that she expected Gouvernail to be more interesting. Gaston tells her that he does not expect disturbance over his visit and that he just wants a break from his busy life. She sits alone on a bench later that night, puzzled and desiring to leave the plantation, having told her husband that she might go to the city in the morning and stay with her aunt.

She goes for the city the next morning and does not return until Gouvernail has left the city.

Gaston requests that Gouvernail return the next summer, but she rejects. She subsequently changes her mind, much to her husband's surprise, who assures her that Gouvernail has not deserved her disapproval. She tells her husband, adding that she would now treat him with greater hospitality by kissing him and vows that she has "overcome everything”. In this way, the story ends.

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About the Author

Iswori Rimal is the author of, a popular education platform in Nepal. Iswori helps students in their SEE, Class 11 and Class 12 studies with Complete Notes, important questions and other study materials.

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