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The Female Persuasion | Study Guide

Meg Wolitzer

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The Female Persuasion | Part 2, Chapter 4 : Twin Rocket Ships | Summary



Greer travels by bus to an interview with Faith Frank for a job at her feminist magazine, Bloomer. On the bus to New York City she thinks about how she does not really like the magazine because it is out of date, and she compares it to a newer, younger magazine, Fem Fatale, which is more relevant with "critiques of racism, sexism, capitalism, and homophobia." When she arrives at Bloomer magazine, no one is there. The door is locked and there is no answer to her pounding, which becomes frantic as she realizes just how much she wants to work for Faith and not the nonprofits she has been applying to. She wants to use her writing skills at Bloomer and "essentially get paid to be a feminist." When Greer had first called Bloomer, she had been surprised that Faith still remembered her after three and a half years of no contact. Finally, a young woman answers the door and as Greer follows she takes in the surroundings and observes that "something was so very wrong here. The unfriendly person at the door, the knot of employees, the atmosphere of loss and worry and shock." The magazine has lost its funding and now Greer fears she will never work for Faith. When everyone is distracted after a speech by Faith, Greer leaves the office.

Greer meets up with Cory at a coffee shop, and he instantly knows the interview did not go well. Cory comforts and encourages Greer. She admits that her main disappointment comes from her desire to know Faith and not from missing an opportunity to work for her. Later, Greer sends Faith and e-mail letting her know she stopped by and that she appreciates everything Faith has done to further women's rights. As Cory and Greer continue their job searches, Cory finds out that the firm Armitage & Rist have changed their offer and want him to work in Manila now. Cory accepts the job. However, Greer ends up working full time at Skate Fest—where she worked in high school—while she continues to send out her resume. Cory usually calls Greer during the day while she is passing out skates because he is 12 hours ahead. They miss each other and Cory suggests that they "do something sexy over the phone," but she is at work. When she gets home, Alby is waiting for her because he wants her to time him as he speeds around the block on his scooter, and his turtle, Slowy, stays on Greer's lawn. Greer forgets to stop the time.

Later that summer Greer receives an e-mail from Faith asking her to come in and interview for a position at a new venture she is starting. The two e-mail back and forth before Greer goes in to interview after three days. In the interview Faith explains who Emmett Shrader, the venture capitalist, is, and that he wants to start a women's foundation to help connect female speakers with venues to address current issues in the women's movement. Faith explains that her fight is for all women regardless of what they think of her, and that she will "use whatever resources are at [her] disposal to fight in the way [she knows] how." Faith also mentions a mysterious emergency project, that they have already released funds to help "women of color living in the rural South," and that the name of the foundation will be Loci, pronounced low-sigh, which is the plural form of locus: an annoying and devastating insect that represents the number of problems that plague women. Faith offers Greer an entry level position as a booker for the foundation's speakers, and she accepts.

Two weeks later Zee helps Greer move into an apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Greer gives Cory a Skype tour of her apartment and describes the neighborhood to him. Zee and Greer sit and talk after she is moved in, but Zee leaves Greer feels lonely. The two meet up again the night before both of them begin new jobs; Zee as a paralegal and Greer as a booker. Zee gives Greer a letter and asks her to give it to Faith because Zee does not want to be a paralegal or lawyer like her parents want her to be. She would rather work for Faith alongside Greer. However, Greer has mixed feelings about it.


A central idea is that, as time moves forward, everything is eventually replaced. Wolitzer begins to develop the cyclical nature of life through Greer's interview with Bloomer magazine. At its inception Bloomer was edgy, fresh, and essentially young. When Greer arrives for her interview she discovers it is now dead. It has completed its life cycle. Just as a younger person replaces an older one upon retirement or death, a younger, edgier magazine will replace Bloomer. Fem Fatale, which as a young person Greer reads more than Bloomer, is replacing the 40-year-old magazine. These two magazines serve as symbols that mirror the cycle.

Bloomer represents the second wave of feminism that began young and edgy. After 40 years, though, it has become outdated, less relevant, and a little soft, much like the human body. The view that the second wave of feminism was outdated and only spoke to white, upper-class woman is echoed in cartoon Fem Fatale runs about Bloomer magazine. Fem Fatale represents the third wave of feminism. Just like the third wave provided a radical new critique of racism, sexism, capitalism, and homophobia, Fem Fatale critiques Bloomer. The difference in the buildings where each magazine is staffed provides further commentary on this idea. Fem Fatale has converted an old, outdated candy factory into their new office, taking something old and making it relevant. In contrast, Bloomer's offices are "located in a small commercial building in the far West Thirties" and "down [a] narrow hallway." The wealthy aspect of the second wave is referenced in the "commercial" aspect, and commercial further implies a for-profit leaning. The "narrow hallway" references the narrow focus and vision of the second wave that Bloomer represents. Finally, the location when combined with the name itself points to the outdated, aged nature of the magazine, its founder, and the second wave. Bloomers were worn by women in the late 1800s and became a symbol of women's rights but are no longer relevant as they have been replaced by tighter fitting underwear. The age element is repeated in the physical address "West Thirties," harkening to the wild west or the 1930s. Even the magazine's website is described as being "slightly grainy and sleepy."

When Greer is unable to interview and get a job at Bloomer because it is closing, she is on shaky ground. The unevenness of Cory getting a job and leaving for Manila while Greer returns home to menial work that does not require a degree places Greer at the bottom of the power struggle again. She not only has no job or direction, but Cory has left as well. Again, the two rocket ships are being propelled in different directions. Returning home, however, places Greer in regular contact with Alby. This underscores the inequality and conflict between going fast and going slow. Cory seems to be going fast while Greer is going slow. Even next to Alby Greer stands still. She times him as he rides his scooter around the block. In the process his mother, Benedita, comes outside "and the two women stood in silence, neither one moving, both of them short, and as still as the turtle at their feet." Greer seems to be standing still in her life and later Benedita will stand still when Alby dies.

Greer's life finally starts to speed up when Faith Frank calls her about her new foundation. When Greer arrives, she does not just go up to the 26th floor, "she shot up" to it. This foreshadows her new trajectory and references the rocket ship image again. At this moment Wolitzer begins using color association to communicate meaning. The prominent color associated with Faith's new foundation is white. The initial office space is "so blank and white and expansive that [Greer] could not tell if it was still under construction," and then in Faith's private office they talk while sitting "on a white sofa." The color white is associated with cleanliness, a fresh start, and even virginity. There is so much "newness" in Greer's experience, the starting of the foundation, the nature of the foundation, and the interaction with Faith that it makes sense to use the color white. In addition, white is associated with angels. Faith's foundation will be saving and impacting women, but it is more immediately serving as Greer's savior. She now has a direction. It also alludes to the meaning of Faith Frank's name since angels are a symbol of religious faith. Greer starts this new leg of her life with an innocence, and her view of both Faith and the foundation is associated with innocence, goodness, and purity.

Wolitzer continues the religious imagery with an allusion to the exodus of Israel from captivity in Egypt. The foundation's name is "Loci, as in the plural of locus." Locus was one of the plagues, and one of the intended meanings that Faith mentions is that there are so many issues that plague women and "so many issues to focus on." At the same time, this naming hints that problems will plague Loci. Those problems will eventually force Greer to quit and tarnish the innocence. Moreover, Greer will experience her own personal plagues during the four years she works for Loci. One of the initial plagues for Loci appears to be the investor Emmett Shrader. Everyone Greer talks to raises concerns about him being involved with the foundation. Greer experiences her first plague as well when Zee gives her a letter to pass on to Faith. Zee wants a job at Loci too, but Greer has just gained some of her power back through being associated with a powerful person and foundation. She does not want to share that power, even if it is with her friend. This letter is the center of the betrayal that is mirrored in Greer's admiration of Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair. Zee's letter and her conflicting emotions around it will plague Greer for years.

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