The Gesseler brothers were shoemakers of an uncommon pedigree. They made bespoke shoes for clients. Each pair of shoes they made bore the signs of their expertise, duty, and above all adherence to quality. Since they made their shoes by hand, they hardly made just enough to make a decent living.

Incomprehensibly, their staid workshop stood defiantly amidst the splendour and fabulousness of London’s high streets. Shoe stores here sold footwear that were mass created by machines and were presented to the market sponsored by gigantic promotion campaigns.

Gesseler Brothers had nothing to promote for sans their quality. They had no machines, no corporate façade, and no tendency to push their shoes through purposeful publicity. For them, each foot was unique, thus, every shoe must be handcrafted.

In today’s material world, the Gesselers were a nonconformist, a renegade with a lost provision, and craftsmen, whose thoughts ran counter to whatever cutting edge business colleges instructed. They had shoe-production aptitudes few could match, however, nobody wanted to copy. Such is the toll crash corporate greed assumes the world’s perishing supply of master craftsmen.

In the modern business world, where the main concern of an enterprise turns into the sole yardstick of progress, furore for quality is viewed as a dark trait, without any takers. Gessler Brothers cherished for their conviction and their responsibility. Towards the end, maybe they fell prey to their excellent commitment to the speciality of making fine shoes, but, who bothers? Such individuals are, without a doubt, God’s endowments to humanity, yet how tragic they die un-heard, un-respected, and uncelebrated!

Summary of Quality

‘Quality’ is a craftily written bitter-sweet short story by John Galsworthy, a British Nobel Laureate, a popular Novelist and Dramatist of the early 20th century who gave up a profession in law for a career in writing. His novels and short stories, as well as plays, illustrate his interest in social and ethical problems.

‘Quality’ illustrates the sad and sorrowful plight of craftsmen and artisans due to the outbreak of the Industrial Revolution. It also lays bare the undeniable fact that “change” is the law of nature and the one must change with the changing times, one must keep pace with the changing times or otherwise one is sure to lose the race and is apt to be thrown out of existence.

Galsworthy also illustrates the fact, though implicitly, that with the spread of industrial creed moral and ethical standards got adversely affected. Man belonging to Industrial culture entered into the mad race for the accumulation of huge fortunes and stealing a march over his competitors in the cut-throat competition for superiority not caring even for even a fig for morality and ethical standards.

Before the outbreak of the Industrial Revolution, craftsmen dedicated their whole life to perfection. They accumulated knowledge regarding their craft and it got handed down from generation to generation, each successive generation adding to the knowledge and attaining more and more expertise. Industrial Revolution deprived the
craftsmen not only of their craftsmanship but also of their livelihood. Two brothers, shoe-makers by profession (called Gessler Brothers) migrated from Germany to England, settled down “…in a fashionable street in London”. They had developed such an expertise in shoemaking that they soon got orders from the British Royal Family. They, according to the narrator knew ‘the soul of shoemaking’. However, they did not capitalize it by way of giving it out (advertising) in their signboards and depended only on their workmanship. They never compromised on quality or even the raw material- worked on the best quality Russian leather with their hands alone. Their shop had a certain distinction of grace and gravity. One needed to have patience in placing orders and receiving the ordered goods. Thus procuring or getting shoes from Gesslers was quite time consuming, a process. However, the shoes one got were long-lasting, samples of excellent artsmanship and the choicest ones.

Since Gessler’s didn’t keep pace with the changing times, never went for advertisement nor did they change their ways, so they lost their customers one by one and with the passage of time were reduced to absolute poverty, to starvation and finally thrown out of existence.

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Questions And Answers

Q1. How long had the narrator known Gessler brothers?
Ans. The narrator had known the Gessller brothers from the days of his extreme youth. His age was nearly fourteen or so when the narrator was promoted to one of the Gessler Brothers.

Q2. “He would never have tolerated in his house leather on which he had not worked himself”. This shows that shoemaker….
Ans. This shows that the shoemaker was a self- respecting a man who was proud of his ability and talent to make exquisite shoes.

Q3. Pick out the sentences in the second paragraph which show that the Gesslers were excellent shoemakers.
Ans. The following sentences are clear evidence about Gesslers being excellent shoemakers :

i) ‘It seemed so inconceivable that what he made could ever have failed to fit’.

ii) ‘He would have never tolerated in his house leather on which he had not worked himself’.

iii) ‘The pair of pumps, so inexpressibly slim. The patent leather ……making water come into one’s mouth.

iv) ‘ those pairs could only be made by one who saw before him the soul of boots – so truly were they prototypes incarnating the very spirit of all footgear.

Q4. Making shoes was a work of art for Gesslers means :
Ans. It means that the Gessler brothers considered shoemaking an art and spent hours in producing shoes that were of the highest quality and of exquisite workmanship.

Q5. How did the narrator differentiate between the two brothers? Who was the more skilled of the two?
Ans. According to the narrator, the narrator would identify the Gessler brothers after the conversation is over. The elder brother would say “I’ll ask my brudder” whereas the younger brother would take a decision immediately. He would say “Come tomorrow fortnight”.
Among these two, the younger brother was more skilled.

Q6. Why does the narrator compare the atmosphere of the shop to that of a church?
Ans. the narrator compares the shop’s atmosphere to that of a church to highlight sincerity and the job culture coupled with the utmost dedication to which Mr Gessler was married as a shoemaker. His shop was the church where he served his clients without any selfish intentions.

Q7. The narrator says that the boots ‘lasted terribly’. Is it a compliment or criticism’? Explain.
Ans. The narrator says that the boots ‘lasted terribly’. It is a definite compliment. The narrator actually praises the quality of boots. This line clearly brings out the durability of the shoes made by Mr Gessler.

Q8. “…… and I would continue to rest in the wooden ……..” why did the narrator have to rest in the chair? What was the incense of his trade?

Ans. The narrator had to rest in the chair because he had no choice to go to the shop as one usually goes to other shops in a mood of “please serve me and let me go” the narrator had to enter the shop as one enters a church and sit on the single wooden chair and wait for there was never anybody in the shop. The narrator is referring to the smell of leather as the incense of Mr Gessler’s trade.

Q9. On one occasion the shoemaker offered to take back the narrator’s shoe. Why did he do so?
Ans. The narrator told Gessler that the pair of town walking boots creaked. The shoemaker said that they shouldn’t have done so. He, however, offered to take them back if he could do nothing to them because he thought it to be a reflection on his professional skill.

Q10. ‘Dose big firms’ are no self-respect. Who said this? Who were the big firms ……,
Ans. This statement was spoken by Mr Gessler, a shoe-maker who produced excellent and exquisite shoes with devotion and diligence and the big ‘firms’ he was referring to were the big firms or factories which made shoe-making industry and with whom quality and customer satisfaction mattered much less. He spoke such word to expose the self-ulterior motives of those industrialists with whom monetary profits meant more than their self-respect and customer’s comfort.

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Q11. What were the changes that the narrator observed when he visited the shoemaker’s shop after two years? Why had he not visited him for such a long time?
Ans. The narrator observed that outside one of the two small windows of Gessler’s shop another name was painted, also that of a bootmaker. The old pair of boots was huddled in the single window. Inside it was then a well contracted and even darker than ever. The narrator had not visited the shoemaker’s shop for a few years due to the fact that the shoes were made lasted longer than ever.

Q12. Why did the narrator order three pairs of shoes when he wanted only two?
Ans. The narrator actually wanted only two pairs of shoes but ordered three after he came to realize that the shoemaker had lost half of his store because his company was getting too different to carry on. He felt compassion for the condition of the Gessler brothers.

Q13. Why was the narrator shocked to receive the bill for his shoes?
Ans. The narrator was shocked to receive it for the time along with the parcel of shoes that was quite unusual for Gessler’s wouldn’t send it until the quarter day.

Q14. What were the reasons that led to the death of the younger of the Gessler Brothers?
Ans. Gessler’s younger brothers were unable to cope with the pressures of his decreasing business and economic limitations and eventually died of slow hunger.

Q15. Why did the Gessler brothers lose customers even though they made the best shoes in town?
Ans. The Gessler brothers made the best shoes in the town despite the loss of customers. It was due to industrialization that made people resort to prompt services rather than the quality and durability of the product. As Gessler’s would not compromise on quality and make shoes with a devotion that naturally required time and the seekers of prompt services stopped buying shoes from them.


Discussion Questions

Q. Discuss the appropriateness of the title of the story ‘Quality’.
Ans. The title of the story ‘Quality’ is an apt one, since this story centres around an eccentric craftsman’s extreme devotion to ‘quality’. Gessler brothers sustained in this treacherously material world since they were driven by their commitment to quality. Yet, the artisan could not endure and probably passed away due to poverty and destitution. His art devoured him. It sounds painful that an ace artisan of such expertise died so miserable a death. Had the world been more touchy to the prevalence of quality, the two brothers would have earned name and fame. Unfortunately, the world didn’t take a gander at them.

The story ‘Quality’ by John Galsworthy leaves us miserable after we go through it. It sears our inner voice since it portrays the defeat of an honourable trait of people – to struggle for perfection in whatever they do. This noble trait is ‘Quality’, a sister of ‘Creativity and imagination’.
The Gessler Brothers were Germans. As a race, Germans exceed practically all different races with regards to ‘quality’. The two brothers prepared shoes, a standout amongst the most ordinary of human possession. They earned their living making bespoke shoes of the most astounding craftsmanship. They scarcely scratched a living from their everyday job, except in the hearts of the clients they carved an imprint for themselves.

Need, hard manual work and shame stalked them at each step, but they were undeterred. It is this particular dedication to quality that brought them thankfulness from their bunch of buyers. In any case, declining to adopt present-day strategies for shoe-production, they trudged on in the quest for quality. This energy brought them to fate, and one of the brothers passed away. One can say that the quest for ‘quality’ to an unreasonable dimension brought them long-lasting hopelessness.

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It’s a powerful story of how commercial greed throttled the German brothers’ promise for an average life. Vanquished and dejected, they adhered to their adoration to make an ideal pair of shoes. How tragic! Quality killed an ace craftsman. The irony breaks us.

After we wrap up the story, we locate no other title for the story, more well-suited than ‘Quality’. It is at the focal point of the story, and it is its essence. However, other titles like, ‘A German Shoemaker’s solitary expertise’, or ‘The Appalling End to an Ace Shoemaker’ can likewise be considered appropriate titles for the story.

Extra Questions of Quality

Question: 1 What was the author’s opinion about Mr Gessler as a bootmaker?
Answer: The author held Mr Gessler in high esteem. To him, he was the master of his trade. He was the pride of his profession. He was a true artist. The boots made by him never failed to fit. They were the best to make and finish. They lasted long.

Question: 2 What was the effect on Mr Gessler of the author’s remark about a certain pair of boots?
Answer: The author’s remark gave Mr Gessler a shock. He looked at the author for some time without any reply. He expected at author to withdraw his words. He could not believe that his boots creaked.

Question: 3 What was Mr Gessler’s complaint against big firms? (or) Why does Mr Gessler says that big firms that make shoes had no self-respect?
Answer: Mr Gessler complained that the big firm had no self-respect. They sold their goods by advertisement only but not by the quality of their boots. those firms were snatching the work away from him every year.

Question: 4 Why according to the new tenant was Mr Gessler a failure in business? (or) Why was Mr Gessler a failure in business?
Answer: According to the new tenant, Mr Gessler worked all alone on his boots. so it took him a long time to make boots for the customers. The customers would not wait for so long. By and by, they deserted Mr Gessler and he was put to starvation. The new tenant found these reasons behind Mr Gessler’s failure in business.

Question: 5 What sort of shoes did Gessler make? How did he treat his profession? (or) Why was Gessler known for his boots?
Answer: Gessler made quality shoes. He was devoted to his profession. He maintained quality at the risk of starvation.

Question: 6 Why did the writer get disturbed when he visited the place where Mr Gessler’s shop had existed before?
Answer: The writer got disturbed because the name of Mr Gessler had gone and he saw a Youngman with an English face.

Question: 7 Why did the author not visit Gessler very often?
Answer: The author visited Gessler only when he needed a new pair of shoes.

Question: 8 How was Mr Gessler’s shop different from the shops of others?
Answer: Mr Gessler made quality boots while other shopkeepers made only attractive shoes and durable ones. So his shop was different from the shops of others.

Question: 9 Why did the author order so many pairs of boots? Did he really need them?
Answer: The shoemaker grew old. His brother was dead. He had lost his patrons. He did not need the boots. The author wanted to help him. So he ordered so many pairs of boots.

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  1. thank you for the ready answers which made my preparing for the test easy. I would appreciate if the answers are written according to the mark weightage given to the questions. thank u so much once again.

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