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Chopin, Kate. "A Respectable Woman".


Mr Baroda invites a college friend, Gouvernail, to spend a couple of weeks at his plantation. Mrs Baroda at first does not welcome the intrusion but then she is pleased by the visitor's gentlemanly behaviour towards her.

One night Mrs Baroda sits outside and Gouvernail brings her a scarf sent to her by her husband. The two start talking and after a while Mrs Baroda is overwhelmed by surprisingly affectionate feelings to the guest. As soon as she can leave without being impolite, she does so. The next morning she leaves for her aunt and does not return until Gouvernail departs.

Next summer Mr Baroda wants to have Gouvernail back, but his wife disapproves of the idea. However, before the year ends, Mrs Baroda asks her husband wholly from herself to invite Gouvernail. Her husband is delighted that she has overwhelmed her dislike to his friend. Mrs Baroda answers that she has overwhelmed everything and this time she plans to be very nice to their guest.



- a third person narrative, free access to the thoughts of Mrs Baroda

- set in the community of French speaking settlers

- theme: the precarious position of women in society, making them behave accordingly to the image of "a respectable woman", though their inclinations may be different

- the universal subject of a person coming to terms with unexpected emotions

- Chopin is great in describing feelings, especially negative ones (fear, anger, jealousy, etc.)

- great in penetrating the minds of women, treats the subject with sensitivity and insight

- her stories are mainly concerned with women and targeted at women, but she rarely falls in too much sentimentalism or romanticism

- her stories keep a thought-provoking quality and not always find a happy ending

- her subtle style reminds somewhat of the later British short story writer Katherine Mansfield


  • Author

    Chopin, Kate. (1851 - 1904).
  • Full Title

    "A Respectable Woman".
  • First Published

    In: Vogue. 1894.
  • Form

    Short story.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. "A Respectable Woman". (1894). In: Kate Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories. Ed. Sandra M. Gilbert. NY: Library of America, 2002.


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