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Class 12 Compulsory English Short Stories [A Respectable Women] Full Question Answer Solution

A Respectable Women

Mrs. Baroda was a little provoked to learn that her husband expected his friend, Gouvernail, up to spend a week or two on the plantation. They had entertained a good deal during the winter; much of the time had also been passed in New Orleans in various forms of mild dissipation. She was looking forward to a period of unbroken rest, now, and undisturbed tete-a-tete with her husband, when he informed her that Gouvernail was coming up to stay a week or two.

This was a man she had heard much of but never seen. He had been her husband’s college friend; was now a journalist, and in no sense a society man or “a man about town,” which were, perhaps, some of the reasons she had never met him. But she had unconsciously formed an image of him in her mind. She pictured him tall, slim, cynical; with eyeglasses, and his hands in his pockets; and she did not like him. Gouvernail was slim enough, but he wasn’t very tall nor very cynical; neither did he wear eyeglasses nor carry his hands in his pockets. And she rather liked him when he first presented himself. But why she liked him she could not explain satisfactorily to herself when she partly attempted to do so. She could discover in him none of those brilliant and promising traits which Gaston, her husband, had often assured her that he possessed. On the contrary, he sat rather mute and receptive before her chatty eagerness to make him feel at home and in face of Gaston’s frank and wordy hospitality. His manner was as courteous toward her as the most exacting woman could require; but he made no direct appeal to her approval or even esteem.

Once settled at the plantation he seemed to like to sit upon the wide portico in the shade of one of the big Corinthian pillars, smoking his cigar lazily and listening attentively to Gaston’s experience as a sugar planter.

“This is what I call living,” he would utter with deep satisfaction, as the air that swept across the sugar field caressed him with its warm and scented velvety touch. It pleased him also to get on familiar terms with the big dogs that came about him, rubbing themselves sociably against his legs. He did not care to fish, and displayed no eagerness to go out and kill grosbecs when Gaston proposed doing so.

Gouvernail’s personality puzzled Mrs. Baroda, but she liked him. Indeed, he was a lovable, inoffensive fellow. After a few days, when she could understand him no better than at first, she gave over being puzzled and remained piqued. In this mood, she left her husband and her guest, for the most part, alone together. Then finding that Gouvernail took no manner of exception to her action, she imposed her society upon him, accompanying him in his idle strolls to the mill and walks along the batture. She persistently sought to penetrate the reserve in which he had unconsciously enveloped himself.

“When is he going—your friend?” she one day asked her husband. “For my part, he tires me frightfully.”

“Not for a week yet, dear. I can’t understand; he gives you no trouble.”

“No. I should like him better if he did; if he were more like others, and I had to plan somewhat for his comfort and enjoyment.”

Gaston took his wife’s pretty face between his hands and looked tenderly and laughingly into her troubled eyes.

They were making a bit of toilet sociably together in Mrs. Baroda’s dressing-room.

“You are full of surprises, ma belle,” he said to her. “Even I can never count upon how you are going to act under given conditions.” He kissed her and turned to fasten his cravat before the mirror.

“Here you are,” he went on, “taking poor Gouvernail seriously and making a commotion over him, the last thing he would desire or expect.”

“Commotion!” she hotly resented. “Nonsense! How can you say such a thing? Commotion, indeed! But, you know, you said he was clever.”

“So he is. But the poor fellow is run down by overwork now. That’s why I asked him here to take a rest.”

“You used to say he was a man of ideas,” she retorted, unconciliated. “I expected him to be interesting, at least. I’m going to the city in the morning to have my spring gowns fitted. Let me know when Mr. Gouvernail is gone; I shall be at my Aunt Octavie’s.”

That night she went and sat alone upon a bench that stood beneath a live oak tree at the edge of the gravel walk.

She had never known her thoughts or her intentions to be so confused. She could gather nothing from them but the feeling of a distinct necessity to quit her home in the morning.

Mrs. Baroda heard footsteps crunching the gravel; but could discern in the darkness only the approaching red point of a lighted cigar. She knew it was Gouvernail, for her husband did not smoke. She hoped to remain unnoticed, but her white gown revealed her to him. He threw away his cigar and seated himself upon the bench beside her; without a suspicion that she might object to his presence.

“Your husband told me to bring this to you, Mrs. Baroda,” he said, handing her a filmy, white scarf with which she sometimes enveloped her head and shoulders. She accepted the scarf from him with a murmur of thanks, and let it lie in her lap.

He made some commonplace observation upon the baneful effect of the night air at the season. Then as his gaze reached out into the darkness, he murmured, half to himself:

“‘Night of south winds—night of the large few stars! Still nodding night—’”

She made no reply to this apostrophe to the night, which, indeed, was not addressed to her.

Gouvernail was in no sense a diffident man, for he was not a self-conscious one. His periods of reserve were not constitutional, but the result of moods. Sitting there beside Mrs. Baroda, his silence melted for the time.

He talked freely and intimately in a low, hesitating drawl that was not unpleasant to hear. He talked of the old college days when he and Gaston had been a good deal to each other; of the days of keen and blind ambitions and large intentions. Now there was left with him, at least, a philosophic acquiescence to the existing order—only a desire to be permitted to exist, with now and then a little whiff of genuine life, such as he was breathing now.

Her mind only vaguely grasped what he was saying.

Her physical being was for the moment predominant. She was not thinking of his words, only drinking in the tones of his voice. She wanted to reach out her hand in the darkness and touch him with the sensitive tips of her fingers upon the face or the lips. She wanted to draw close to him and whisper against his cheek—she did not care what—as she might have done if she had not been a respectable woman.

The stronger the impulse grew to bring herself near him, the further, in fact, did she draw away from him. As soon as she could do so without an appearance of too great rudeness, she rose and left him there alone.

Before she reached the house, Gouvernail had lighted a fresh cigar and ended his apostrophe to the night.

Mrs. Baroda was greatly tempted that night to tell her husband—who was also her friend—of this folly that had seized her. But she did not yield to the temptation. Besides being a respectable woman she was a very sensible one; and she knew there are some battles in life which a human being must fight alone.

When Gaston arose in the morning, his wife had already departed. She had taken an early morning train to the city. She did not return till Gouvernail was gone from under her roof.

There was some talk of having him back during the summer that followed. That is, Gaston greatly desired it; but this desire yielded to his wife’s strenuous opposition.

However, before the year ended, she proposed, wholly from herself, to have Gouvernail visit them again. Her husband was surprised and delighted with the suggestion coming from her.

“I am glad, chereamie, to know that you have finally overcome your dislike for him; truly he did not deserve it.”

“Oh,” she told him, laughingly, after pressing a long, tender kiss upon his lips, “I have overcome everything! You will see. This time I shall be very nice to him.”


Mrs. Baroda is somewhat disappointed to learn that her husband's friend Gouvernail is planning to spend a week or two at their plantation, since they had been busy all winter, and she had planned a period of rest and conversation with her husband Gaston Baroda. She has never met Gouvernail, although she knows that he and her husband had been friends in college and that he is now a journalist. She pictures him as a tall, slim, cynical man and did not like the mental image, but when she meets the slim but neither tall nor cynical Gouvernail, she finds that she actually likes him.


Mrs. Baroda cannot discern why she likes Gouvernail, since she does not see all of the positive traits described by Gaston. He does not seem brilliant, but he does seem quiet and courteous in response to her eagerness to welcome him and her husband's hospitality. He makes no particular attempt to impress her otherwise, and he enjoys sitting on the portico and listening to Gaston describe sugar planting, although he does not like to fish or hunt.


Although Gouvernail puzzles Mrs. Baroda, he is lovable and inoffensive. She leaves him alone with her husband at first but soon begins to accompany him on walks as she attempts to overcome his reticence. Her husband tells her that he will stay for another week and asks why she does not wish him to stay. She responds that she would prefer him to be more demanding, which amuses Gaston.


Gaston tells Mrs. Baroda that Gouvernail does not expect a commotion over his presence and that he simply wishes for a break from his busy life, although she declares that she expected him to be more interesting. Later that night, she sits by herself on a bench, feeling confused and wanting to leave the plantation for a while, having told her husband that she might go to the city in the morning and stay with her aunt. While she sits, Gouvernail sees her and sits next to her, not knowing her displeasure at his presence.


Gouvernail hands her a scarf on Gaston's behalf and murmurs about the night and his silence disappears as he becomes talkative for the first time. He speaks to her of the old days and of his desire for a peaceful existence. She does not listen to his words so much as his voice, and she thinks of drawing him closer, although she resists because she is "a respectable woman." Eventually, she leaves, and Gouvernail remains behind, finishing his address to the night.


Mrs. Baroda wants to tell Gaston of her strange folly, but she realizes sensibly that she must handle this feeling by herself. The next morning, she leaves for the city and does not return until Gouvernail departs. Gaston wants Gouvernail to return the next summer, but she refuses. She later changes her mind, delighting her husband, who tells her that Gouvernail did not deserve her dislike. She kisses her husband and tells him that she has "overcome everything" and that she will now treat him more nicely


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

          Piqued (adj.): irritated

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.

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


    Mrs. Baroda unhappy with the information about Gouvernail's visit to their farm because he was a man she heard a lot about him but she never meet him and she was prepared to rest and relaxation to spend some time with her husband.

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


    Gouvernail was different from Mrs. Baroda's expectation, Mrs. Baroda had only heard about before she meet the Gouvernail she think he was boring, dull and confusing. She think he was unattractive  young man ad think he was tall, thin, and wearing glasses and holding the hand inside the pocket, and she unlike him. But one night she had a conversation with him that change her dislike into good wise to connected the relationship with him.  

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


     Mrs. Baroda find Gouvernail attractive, clam and lovable. She doesn't see similar characteristics in him as her husband. She was unable to discover any of the brilliant and promising characteristics that Gaston, her husband, had frequently educated her he had in him. Despite his kindness, 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 expected him to be more interesting, he was no more interested in facts and she didn't expect a commotion over his presence and she attemted to change her solitary by more  adaptable to the situation

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


      Gaston disagree with his wife on Gourvernail's character because there Gaurvernail was not friendly and interesting guys.

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


     Gaston surprised with his wife's expression towards the end of the story because she proposed, 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?


      The main cause of conflict in Mrs. Baroda's mind to attraction to her husband's friend.

Mrs. Baroda wants to tell Gaston of her strange folly, but she realizes sensibly that she must handle this feeling by herself and she has to protect her pride of being women. She afraid of society what the society thinks?

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


      From his outer characterization, we find out that he is Gaston’s “college friend”, who is in the present a journalist, “in no sense a society man or “a man about town””, and he is a smoker.

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


     Mrs. Baroda does not disclose her feeling towards Gouvernail to her husband because Mrs. Baroda does not want turn away from respectable and she will aware from the society. What society thinks and what how they view me.    

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. The story has introduced an unexpected change in Mrs. Barods' internal portrayal and perspective in the last three sentences. Mrs. Baroda has altered her perspective on Gouvernail as well as at this point don't be limited by society's perspective on what makes a good lady. Mrs. Baroda has accomplished opportunity outside of the limits of society. We can expect that Mrs. Baroda has not just conquered her own and society's view of what a decent lady is, yet she is likewise prepared to seek after a relationship with Gouvernail by telling Gaston, "I will be extremely pleasant 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.


    "About Love" is written by Anton Chekhov. In this story, he presents the gentle, deep and passionate love of a man for a woman who is already married and has two children. By this Chekhov wants to show that love is not limited only to martial relation.

        Alyohin had been living a farmer's life at sofyino since he passed bachelor's Degree from the university. His father had spent a lot of money for his education by mortgaging his land. In the story 'About Love' Show the contracts between the two loves stories. The first love stories between the two servants. Pelageya and Nikanor. Pelageya loves Nikanor but she does not want to marry him. He wants to live him just so. But Nikanor asks her marry. He does not like to live her being husband and wife before marriage.

        The second loves stories between Alyohin and Anna. Alyohin and Anna hide their love. Mr. Lunganovich and Anna are husband and wife living together in the city. There wide gap between husband and wife. Anna is a young woman. Another man arrive Alyohin in her life. Same thing as happen in "A Respectable Woman" with the arrival of Gouvernail in Baroda's family. Both Anna and Mrs. Baroda leaves to feel relaxed and refreshed from the 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, a legally and socially sanctioned union, usually between a man and a woman, that is regulated by laws, rules, customs, beliefs, and attitudes that prescribe the rights and duties of the partners and accords status to their offspring. The first thing you should look in your future husband is honesty. He should be honest with you and with himself as well. He should be very much aware of his strengths and weaknesses and his limitations. Honesty with each other and with self is really important to keep the relationship going.

Some of other Quality is mention in point;

i. S/he can understanding with each other in every work

ii.            S/he should well educated and s/he can handle every problem

iii.          S/he should kids friendly

iv.        S/he can balance work and family

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