I don’t dislike you as I did half an hour ago, Gerald. In fact, in some odd way, I rather respect you more than I’ve ever done before.

Sheila says this to Gerald in Act Two, after the revelation of his affair with Eva/Daisy. Here, Sheila here acknowledges that, at the very least, Gerald has been honest with her and with himself over the course of the evening. His relationship with Eva/Daisy has caused both Eva/Daisy and Sheila great pain, but Gerald seems willing to accept this. He does not refute what transpired between him and Daisy, offering that someone in similar circumstances might have acted the same way he did. This impulse is ambiguous. On the one hand, Gerald could be trying to rationalize and normalize his behavior as a way of saving face in front of the family and his fiancee. But it could also be a forthright acknowledgment of what he has done, and what was motivating his actions while he was choosing to carry them out.

Sheila reserves her respect for Gerald’s admission here. She does not respect the other members of her family in nearly the same way, because these family members have not gone to Gerald’s lengths in attempting to make sense of what they have done, and to accept the culpability that arrives with that attempt. In particular, Sheila is aghast at the idea that Arthur might simply carry on as if nothing has happened. Sheila realizes that Arthur and Sybil’s primary concerns are their appearance and what might become of them in social circles. They do not care what they have learned about each other. For Sheila, this is genuinely shocking and seems only to give credence to what the Inspector is saying, that many people in contemporary society care only for their own personal advancement. In addressing Gerald, Sheila believes that perhaps there is more to him than this mere desire for money, adulation, and achievement.