A House Is Not a Home


Born in Yanow on the Russian/Polish border in 1900, Polly Adler (1900–1962) immigrated to New York City in 1912. She was a Russian-Jewish author and American madam best known for her book A House Is Not a Home, which was later made into a movie with the same name.

Zan Gaudioso shared a personal experience in the story A House Is Not a Home. The story emphasizes the fine difference between a house and a home. A home is a location where a family lives together and shares the bond of love and oneness, whereas a house is a building where people dwell


The main focus of the story is Zan. As he started at a new high school, he felt depressed. He was a junior there and missed his old buddies. He often visited his old school. Being the senior there had been fun for him. His house caught fire one Sunday afternoon, which only made his problems worse. They lost everything, except a few documents and pictures of his father that his mother was able to save. Zan didn't even have a pair of shoes. He had also lost his pet cat.

Zan experienced depression and decided not to go to school. He realized that they needed to restore their lives. They required new furnishings, clothing, textbooks, etc. They were short on cash, credit cards, and identity documents, so they had to borrow money from their grandparents.

When Zan went to school, he was shocked to see a table piled high with stuff that his classmates had gathered, including books, stationery, clothes, and other items. They were helping him. Zan met friends and felt overwhelmed. He recovered from his sadness and began to appreciate life. When Zan watched his house being restored, he believed that his life was also being restored again and one day a woman returned his cat, which had escaped out of fear of the fire.


A House Is Not a Home, conveys a message that one must confront life's difficulties head-on. People might face numerous obstacles in life, but they must remain firm and overcome them

Question and Answers

Q. What does the author notice one Sunday afternoon? What is his mother’s reaction?

Ans: The author first noticed an odd smell on a Sunday afternoon. Then he noticed smoke rapidly filling the space as it poured in through the ceiling gaps. They hardly had any vision at all. The roof was already covered in flames and was swiftly spreading when they ran into the front yard. His mother rushed back inside. She had taken out a tiny metal box containing essential papers.

Q. Why does he break down in tears after the fire?

Ans: Fire completely damaged the house. The author realized that his cat was missing when the fire was finally extinguished five hours later. He had to accept the loss of his home, cat, and former school. He sobbed and started crying in that situation.

Q. Why is the author deeply embarrassed the next day in school? Which words show his fear and insecurity?

Ans: The author felt embarrassed at school the next day. It was odd how he was dressed. He had no books or assignments. His bag had vanished. He had the impression that he would be an outsider and a geek. He was terrified and insecure. He longed for death. These are the words: strange, outcast, geek, etc.

Q. The cat and the author are very fond of each other. How has this been shown in the story? Where was the cat after the fire? Who brings it back and how?

Ans: The author and his cat shared a strong bond. She continued to sit next to him as he completed his homework and other household chores. The author was beyond happy when he got his cat back. He swiftly grabbed her and felt relieved. This demonstrated how much they cared for one another

Q. What actions of the schoolmates change the author’s understanding of life and people, and comfort him emotionally? How does his loneliness vanish and how does he start participating in life?

Ans: For him, his classmates gathered notebooks, clothing, tops, and sweat suits. When they saw him, they expressed worry. The author's perspective on life and people was altered as a result of these events. Everything touched him on a deep level. That day, he made a lot of friends

Q. What is the meaning of My cat was back and so was I? Had the author gone anywhere? Why does he say that he is also back?

Ans: My cat was back and so was I refers to the fact that, like Zan, he also experienced a new beginning. He emerged from the darkness that had enveloped him. He hadn't left, that's for sure. He claims to be back, which suggests that he has a new life that is warm and kind


Q. What does the title A house is not a home refer to?

Ans: The roof and walls make up a house. It might catch fire and burn up. However, love and relationships are the foundations of a home. As a result, the home cannot be burned by the fire inside.

Q. What is the theme of the story A house is not a home?

Ans: The difficulties of growing up and the changes faced by a teenager are reflected in this story. The author successfully conveys the idea that life is meaningless without love. It was only normal for her to feel depressed and after believing she had lost everything.

Q. The author missed his old school, but why?

Ans: The author missed his former teachers and his old school since they encouraged him to get involved in extracurricular activities so he could socialize with new people.

Q. What characteristics distinguish a home from a house?

Ans: A home is where a person feels comfortable and accepted and where their most private possessions are stored. A home conveys a family's or individual's interests and tells a story. Establishing a home requires an emotional bonding and a sense of belonging more than material goods. A home can't be a house, but a house can be a home.