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Villa for Sale – Sacha Guiltry

Villa for Sale by Sacha Gultry is a humorous play set in a villa in France, near Joinville, the French Hollywood. Juliette was a rich lady but after buying a villa in Joinville, she is going through a little hard time. On the very day of her purchase, Juliette wants to sell it. Get rid of it! She had a few buyers in the last week but none of them drew near a deal. Well, today she is expecting a very rich American actress – Mrs. Al Smith – who was so keen to buy the villa. While waiting for Mrs. Al Smith, Mr. Gaston and Jeanne showed up and Juliette was excited. When she heard that Gaston could not afford such a large amount, Juliette offers to show them the villa around which was instantly turned down by Gaston. When Juliette takes Jeanne in, Mrs. Al Smith arrives. Mistaking Gaston for the owner (Juliette’s husband), she makes a deal with him for 300,000 francs and goes in the very haste she came in. Soon, when Juliette and Jeanne returned, Gaston agrees to buy the villa for 200,000 francs!

Here is the Deal!

  • Juliette bought the villa for 50,000 Francs
  • Gaston offered 60,000 Francs
  • Juliette demanded 250,000 francs
  • Juliette’s final bid was 200,000
  • Mrs. Al Smith bought it for 300,000 francs
  • Gaston bought the villa from Juliette for 200,000 francs
  • Gaston made a profit of 100,000.
  • Juliette made a profit of 150,000 francs

Part 1 – Juliette is Waiting for Someone to Buy her Villa

  • Juliette, a rich lady, purchased a villa near Joinville, the French Hollywood for fifty thousand francs.
  • Surprisingly, she decided to sell the villa the same day she bought it.
  • She hung a “Villa for Sale” sign-board at the gate and waited for buyers.
  • It was then that Juliette realized that selling a villa is not as easy as buying one.

Questions & Answers

  1. Why was Juliette disappointed about the purchase of the villa?
    Juliette felt disappointed with the purchase of the villa because she had found it easy to buy it whereas selling it seemed to be almost impossible though she had tried for a month. She feared that she was not going to get any profit from the villa.
  2. Why did Juliette feel that the villa did not belong to her any more?
    Since she put the ‘for sale’ board at the gate of the villa, some six buyers had come to buy the villa but one by one they declined from buying it. Because she had every time thought that the villa was ‘sold,’ Juliette now began to feel that the villa did not belong to her.
  3. Why does Juliette believe that there is no right time to sell a house?
    Juliette was of the opinion that there is no right time to buy a villa but there is always a right time to sell. She believed that anyone with money can any time buy a villa but selling a villa is difficult because buyers are not ready to pay the price expected by the seller.
  4. How did the maid manage to get into Joinville?
    Juliette’s maid was an ambitious woman. She was very crazy about acting and becoming an actress. She got into the French Hollywood, Joinville, as she got a chance to do the role of a maid because the producers were very particular about engaging real maids rather than actors and actresses doing maid’s role.
  5. Comment on the character of the maid who is presented as a comical and innocent character.
    Juliette’s maid was aware of the fact that her mistress was going through financial troubles and therefore thought of helping her by suggesting her to do some sort of acting career at Joinville. When Juliette considered this suggestion in a grateful manner, the innocent maid went on justifying her opinion saying that Juliette had a really funny look and that she could take the role of a cook because she had a perfect appearance of a cook.

Reference to Context Questions

  1. “If someone had bought it on the very day I placed it for sale, then I might have felt sorry…”
    1. What for was Juliette feeling sorry?
      Juliette was feeling sorry for her decision to sell the villa on the very first day of her owning it.
    2. Why might the speaker have felt sorry?
      The speaker, Juliette, might have felt sorry if someone bought her villa on the very day she put the for sale board at the gate because she would always have thought that the price that she had quoted was a very low one and that she could have sold it for more than that amount.
    3. Why did, in fact, the speaker place the villa for sale?
    4. Why isn’t the speaker sorry at present?
  2. “For the first week, I was annoyed every time I passed the ‘Villa For Sale’ sign…”
    1. Why was Juliette annoyed while passing the sign board?
    2. Was Juliette annoyed with the sign even after the first week? Why do you think so?
  3. “They say maids are born; maids are not made…”
    1. Who are they?
    2. What do “they” mean by this?
    3. Name the speaker. Why is she talking about “them?”
  4. “Thank God, that I am not so hard up as that yet.”
    1. Why does Juliette thank God at this point?
    2. What was the maid’s suggestion for Juliette?
    3. Why did the maid make such a suggestion?
  5. “If that is the lady, tell her that I will not be long.”
    1. Which is the lady referred to here?
    2. Why is the lady asked to wait?

Part 2 – Gaston and Jeanne – Two Confused Buyers

  • However, one day, Juliette had two unexpected visitors – a couple, Gaston and Jeanne, while she was waiting for another buyer, an American actress, Mrs. Al Smith.
  • Between Gaston and Jeanne, only Jeanne wished to buy the villa while Gaston accompanied her only to please his wife. Yea, Gaston didn’t wish to buy a villa at all.
  • While Jeanne was admiring the villa, Gaston made it very clear that he didn’t intend to buy a villa.
  • He didn’t want Jeanne’s sister and her “tribe” of family occupy a villa which he paid for.
  • Disappointed, Jeanne abandoned her dream of buying the villa and was just moving out when Juliette stopped the couple.
  • Though she saw that they were not going to buy the villa, she took Jeanne upstairs to show her around.
  • Gaston, relieved that his wife didn’t make a chaos (confusion), stood waiting for Jeanne.

Questions & Answers

  1. What were the faults that Gaston found with the Villa?
    Gaston found that the villa had nothing that matched with what was mentioned in the advertisement. He said that the salon was old fashioned and impossible, the garden was over grown with bushes and the villa altogether was nothing but a shanty.
  2. What was, in Gaston’s opinion, the reason for Jeanne’s queer desire whenever she saw a ‘villa for sale’ sign?
    Gaston believed that Jeanne had a queer desire to talk to the owners of the villas with ‘for sale’ signs at the gate so as to be shown around. It was possible that Jeane fulfilled  her desires to own a villa by being shown around.
  3. What right did Jeanne really have to argue for a villa? How did Gaston counter that?
    Jeanne wanted a villa for her aged father and mother with the money that Gaston had received from her parents as dowry. Gaston countered her arguments saying that they had long ago invested that amount in their business.
  4. “I am very fond of your family but not so quite fond as that.” Explain.
    For Gaston buying a villa for Jeanne’s parents was not an entirely forbidden idea but he was not fond of Jeanne’s sister and her children whom he considers a tribe of children that reflects his open contempt for them.
  5. Why did Juliette inform Jeanne and Gaston that she was not intending to sell the villa?
    Juliette had only one wish in her life – get rid of her villa, even at a great loss yet, being a strategic person, shrewd of course, she told her customers that she didn’t intend to sell the villa to any unimportant passerby. Immediately after this, she would say she had no objection in selling the villa to the one whom she gave a shock because she thought him to be the most deserving buyer.
  6. Why did Gaston admit that the garden was ‘tall?’
    In Gaston’s opinion, the garden in front of the villa had no charm as claimed by Juliette but he sarcastically admits that it was tall, referring to the tall grass in the garden that grew taller because the garden was not properly taken care for.
  7. What for did Mrs. Al Smith buy the villa?
    Mrs. Al Smith bought the villa to build an American style bungalow after knocking it down. She wished to stay there to act and shoot some movies at Joinville.
  8. Why was Gaston always finding fault with villas that Jeanne wished to buy?
    Gaston deliberately found faults with the villas that Jeanne wished to buy because he had never been intending to buy a villa for fear that Jeanne’s parents, her sister and her tribe of children would occupy the villa and that he would never be able to live in it.

Part 3 – Juliette Persuades but Fails

  1. How did Juliette try to persuade Jeanne and Gaston to buy the villa?
  2. “On the principle of people who like children and haven’t any can always go and live near a school.” What does Gaston mean?
    Gaston said this when he and Juliette were talking about the garden. Being quite unimpressed by Juliette’s poor garden surrounded by beautiful gardens of the neighbors, Gaston finds it equal to couples having no children living near to a school. Here, both, the owner of the villa with a poor garden and couples having no children can enjoy the beauty of something that belongs to others.
  3. Why did Juliette say that she didn’t wish to sell the villa?
  4. On what ground did Juliette say that Gaston and Jeanne deserve the villa?
  5. What is the point of Juliette telling Gaston and Jeanne that she would keep the Carot?
  6. Why did Juliette insist that Gaston and Jeanne should see around the villa?

Part 4 – Mrs. Al Smith, an American Actress

  • While Gaston kept watch outside the villa, Mrs. Al Smith arrived. She mistook Gaston for the owner of the house and got into a hasty (sudden) deal.
  • A smart situationist, Gaston played the role of the owner and signed the deal.
  • Having sold Juliette’s villa for 300,000 francs and having seen the actress off, Gaston got ready to face Juliette and Jeanne on their return.
  • To the great dismay of his wife and of Juliette, Gaston agreed to buy the villa from Juliette for 200,000 francs and another deal signed.
  • Having made the deal, having asked Juliette to vacate the villa by the next day, Gaston moves out, with his exasperated wife, with a profit of 100,000 francs by selling somebody’s villa!!!

Questions & Answers

  1. Under what circumstances did Mrs. Al Smith take Gaston for Juliette’s husband?
    When Mrs. Al Smith arrived Juliette’s villa, she found Gaston waiting outside. In fact he had been waiting for Jeane’s return after seeing the villa. Neither Juliette nor the maid around, Mrs. Al Smith thought that Gaston was the owner of the villa.
  2. How did Gaston behave as if he was the real owner of the villa?
    In fact Gaston had no plans to pretend to be the owner of the villa but when he saw that Mrs. Al Smith had taken him for the owner of the villa, the quick-witted Gaston did a series of acting. He gave the impression that in his family, members used to misplace pens in order to justify his not finding a pen in time.
  3. What kind of an unusual buyer was Al Smith?
    Mrs. Al Smith presents a comedian in the play. She was probably the busiest buyer in the world, with five minutes to spare for a purchase. She criticizes the French people for their old systems and lack of tactics but at the end she ascends the chair of the most foolish buyer in all America by buying a villa for an irrationally high price, from someone who had not yet purchased the villa.
  4. What indirect taunting did Gaston do to Mrs. Al Smith by saying that everybody thinks about what he has got?
    Seeing Mrs. Al Smith feeling superior to French people Gaston said that he was proud of his nation’s past and of his grand father because he had both of them. He left an indirect taunting to Mrs. Al Smith who said that American didn’t take proper care of the elderly and were proud only of their future.
  5. Why does Gaston think that there was no good copying the Americans?
  6. What was Mrs. Al Smith’s opinion about the French people? How did Gaston prove it wrong?
  7. Gaston’s act of playing the role of the owner of the villa appears to be a chance adventure but it involves forgery and theft. What do you say? (In as many words as possible)
  8. What went wrong with Gaston’s quoting Shakespeare during the transaction?
    Gaston had quite good knowledge of Shakespeare…

Reference to Context

  1. “My lawyer is Mr. Who, 5, Rue Cambon. He will get in touch with yours about the rest of the transaction. Goodbye.”
    1. Name the speaker and the person spoken to? What transaction is she talking about? (2 marks)
    2. What makes this legal meeting quite interesting in the story’s context? (2 marks)
    3. What for is Mr. Who supposed to meet the listener’s lawyer? (1 mark)
  2. “While you were upstairs, I thought a lot about your papa and mamma.”
    1. Who was upstairs?
    2. What is tricky about Gaston’s statement? Why did he tell this lie?
  3. “As I am not arguing about the price, as I am not bargaining with you, well, you must be nice with me…”
    1. Name the speaker.
    2. Why doesn’t Gaston want to argue or bargain about the price?
    3. How is Juliette expected to be nice with Gaston?

The End – Gaston buys the Villa

  1. How did Gaston behave to convince Jeanne and Juliette that he was earnest about buying the villa?
  2. Why did Gaston want Juliette quit the villa the next day? (1 mark)
  3. Why does Gaston insist on getting the painting signed by Carot?
  4. Why did Juliette think of being philanthropic?

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