Short Story #282: A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin
Title: A Respectable Woman
Author: Kate Chopin
SummaryMrs. Baroda learns that her husband's friend, Gouvernail is spending some time with them on their plantation. She is somewhat displeased by this as they had been doing much entertaining and she hoped for a break. She had never met the man but had heard much about him. She quickly takes a liking to him upon his appearance. However, she finds he has a mystery about him that she can't explain and regularly tries to make sense of. She tells her husband that she will be better when the man is gone because he is unlike other visitors and this perplexes her. She decides that she will leave until he has left. That night, she sits outside on a bench reflecting on why he makes her feel so strange. Gouvernail encounters her at night and says that her husband gave him a scarf to give to her while she is outside. After some remarks, the two sit in silence. He begins to talk but she does not listen as her body feels drawn to him. She wants to press close against her but her standing as a "respectable woman" keeps her from doing so. To this feeling, she begins to draw herself away from him. She eventfully leaves and when in the house debates telling her husband. She resists that too and goes to bed. The next morning, she has left before others have arisen. After Gouvernail leaves, she returns and initially, protests his return. However, within a year, she champions his visit to her husband's surprise. She simply states that she has overcome everything and will be nice to him.
ReflectionI'm surprised that Baroda resists. Chopin usually has her characters submit to their longing to some degree. Though maybe she is discussing of the repressive nature of the "respectable woman" by keeping Baroda doing so. Yet I have to wonder about the ending and it's suggestion. Has Baroda overcome her attraction or is she planning on full indulging it. It's not entirely clear (and probably purposely so!).
Short Story #282 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 9/15/2014
Source: You can the full text of this short story at this website.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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