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a respectable woman exercise

A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin Exercise: Questions & Answers Class 12 English


 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 farm because he was a man she'd heard a lot about but had never met. She was unhappy also because she had planned a period of rest and conversation with her husband, Gaston Baroda from their busy life throughout all winter.


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 finds Gouvernail attractive, but she does not perceive the same traits in him as her husband.  She couldn't find any of the brilliant and promising qualities that Gaston, her husband, had often informed her he possessed in him.

Despite his courtesy, Mrs Baroda considers him unsociable in comparison to her husband because he does not appear to be paying attention to her.


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

➜ Mrs Baroda tried to change Gouvernail's solitary habits because she didn't expect a commotion over his presence and he was no more interested in facts. She expected him to be more interesting. 

She attempted to change her solitary habits by assuring him to be more talkative and adaptable to the situation.


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

➜ Gaston disagrees with his wife's on Gouvernail's character as a less interesting and shy figure, indicating rather that he is a remarkable, friendly, interesting, and talkative figure.


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 by herself to have Gouvernail visit them again before the year ended which he has not ever expected from her side.


 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?

➜ Mrs Baroda's attraction to her husband's friend is the main cause of conflict in Mrs Baroda’s mind.

Mrs Baroda appears to be bound by society's perception of what makes a respectable woman. Mrs Baroda seems to be attracted to Gouvernail, but she controls her urge to touch his face since she believes she is a respectable woman and is probably afraid of what society might think of her.


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. Gaston also appears to love his wife, addressing her as "ma belle" or "chère amie."


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 to be restricted to society’s opinion. Mrs Baroda is well aware that society would view her action as inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour for 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 bring a kind of twist in the story "A Respectable Woman". The story has presented a sudden change in Mrs Barods's inner characterization and way of thinking in the last three sentences.

Mrs Baroda has not only changed her mind about Gouvernail but she may also no longer be bound by society's view of what makes a respectable woman. Mrs Baroda has achieved freedom outside of the boundaries of society. We can assume that Mrs Baroda has not only overcome her own and society's perceptions of what a respectable woman is, but she is also ready to pursue a relationship with Gouvernail by telling Gaston, "I shall be very nice to him (Gouvernail)."


 Reference beyond the text 

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.

➜ Anton Chekhov's story "About Love" is an interesting story where the arrival of Alyohin in Mr Luganovich’s family destroys the intimate relationship between the husband and the wife and it causes terrible troubles and mental stress to his wife Anna Luganovich.


Mr Luganovich and Anna are husband-wife living together in the city. Though there is a wide gap of age differences between the husband and the wife, they are living happily. In fact, Anna is a young lady of about twenty-two. She is married to a judge, a man of over forty. She is a young woman, beautiful, kind, intelligent and fascinating. Her gaze, her beautiful and delicate hands, her way of walking, her voice, and her hairstyle are all impressive to anybody. As the story opens, she has a six month's baby and later she has another baby. She has been living with her husband in peace and harmony. But the arrival of another man in her life damages her life entirely. Ultimately, she has a neurotic problem and she has to leave Alyohin. The same thing happens in the story "A Respectable Woman" with the arrival of Gouvernail in Baroda's family. In the former story, Anna leaves the city for Crimea to feel relaxed and refreshed and here in this story, Mrs Baroda leaves the plantation for her Aunt Octavie's so that she can get relaxed and refreshed from her mental stress.


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 lifetime decision. That's why one should never rush to this stage until he/she is fully sure about life partner. Otherwise, it may be the folly of a lifetime. It is a serious matter of life. One should put a lot of thought into intellect before deciding to marry someone. It is not as same as judging a book by its cover as there are many pages, paragraphs, sentences, and words in it. I hope to see the following qualities in my future wife/husband:


  • S/he has good manners to show his affection and care.
  • S/he admits his shortcomings and accepts my follies (Good Listener)
  • S/he enjoys my company and understands and respects my decision, too.
  • S/he knows my likes and dislikes, my birthday, and remembers to give me little gifts and surprises on different occasions.
  • S/he is sweet and has a good sense of humour.
  • S/he never places restrictions on me or the relationship.
  • S/he respects my family and friends and truly loves me.
  • S/he can balance his work and family and face challenges.
  • S/he is independent both financially and emotionally.

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