In the following paragraph taken from the story of “The Women” from New Yorker magazine it is hard for me to understand this part, maybe I cannot get the grammar used here or something. Can you paraphrase it in the most close to original form please? Is it saying that she was whispering to herself that even if they get less when they were there, it is still a big thing because they did not expect all that? And she was not aware that it should be?!!! Should be what?

Miss Keble, sensing these thoughts, kept the subject going, marvelling that so little achieved should seem so much a triumph, yet understanding that it should be. She would not easily forget the faces of the girls, their voices, too, and how politely they stood back, respecting strangers. All of it was impossible to forget.

1 Answer 1


To paraphrase, as I understand it:

She marvelled that so little could result in seeming so much. But she also understood how it was possible.

In other words (reversing the phrase), she understands intellectually how achieving something so objectively minor could seem like such a triumph—yet she marvels at the fact nonetheless.

Making assumptions from the rest of the paragraph, it was amazing how the girls now respected strangers. That, in itself, is a small change in their behaviour; yet, for her, it is a miraculous change.

marvelling that so little achieved [getting the girls to be polite and respect strangers] should seem so much a triumph [such an accomplishment], yet understanding that it should be [but understanding that such a small outward change should be considered a triumph, given the effort it took to achieve].

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