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The Female Persuasion | Study Guide

Meg Wolitzer

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The Female Persuasion | Part 2, Chapter 5 : Twin Rocket Ships | Summary



Greer is starting her new job at Loci. She has decorated her cubical and is "still in love with the idea of work," but the work itself is repetitive. Greer feels disconnected from her coworkers and eats alone in her cubicle. Bored with his own work, Cory asks Greer to send him pictures and text anecdotes about her first day. After an intense meeting Greer talks with Faith in her office, Zee's letter in her pocket. During the conversation Greer provides some suggestions and the meeting goes well. Greer does not want to ruin it by giving Zee's letter to Faith, so she leaves with it still in her pocket. On the way back to her cubicle Greer realizes "she didn't want to share Faith with Zee." She still plans to give Faith the letter the next day but "only out of obligation."

The following Friday Greer is working late in the office and hears her coworkers leave for a bar. She realizes how lonely she is, and Emmett Shrader stops by her desk. When he asks why she is there so late and not out for drinks, Greer mentions she was not invited, and Shrader shows her a flyer in the employee kitchen. She secluded herself by eating lunch in her cubicle, and when she realizes her mistake she leaves to have "Friday Drinks" with her colleagues. Greer's coworkers make room for her as soon as they see her walk in. They have a casual conversation that makes her wish Zee was there, but she quickly feels guilty because she is the reason Zee is not. Just as everyone is about to leave the bar, Faith arrives and everyone stays.

Eventually Greer is able to talk to Faith. Greer mentions that her friend wants to work at the foundation but that Greer does not really want her to do so because she does not want to share the experience. Faith asks her why she feels this way, and Greer goes back to her relationship with her parents. Faith asks her if she wants her to read the letter or just let it go, but Greer is not sure. Their conversation then shifts to Faith asking Greer if she wants to do some speechwriting. Faith's approval of Greer makes Greer happy. A few days later Greer realizes she still has not given Faith the letter, but she thinks it is too late so just lets it go. That night Zee calls and Greer tells her that there were no jobs, with the narrator summarizing the chain of events as "A confession to Faith, then a nonaction, then a lie. That was the sequence, and then it was done." Over the next few months Greer interviews women who are going to speak in order to write their speeches for them. When her first speech is delivered and Faith acknowledges how well Greer has done, Greer finds a new passion and excitement, feeling that "The speeches she was writing might give the women who delivered them a chance to be ambitious too; as ambitious as she was."

Greer gets more excited about what she is doing for Loci as the foundation's first summit gets closer, but Cory seems to be more and more dissatisfied and uninterested in his own work. Because of all the work done in preparation for the first summit, Faith takes Loci's employees to her summer home for the weekend so they can refresh a bit before the summit itself. Cell services are spotty at Faith's house, so everyone just turns off their phones. Greer stays in the room that used to be Faith's son Lincoln's. During the preparation for dinner Greer volunteers to cut the onions. Faith reveals that they will have steak, and Greer decides to remind her that she is a vegetarian later. The conversation jumps from abortion rights, to the Senate, to human trafficking, to a British television show, and back to economic equality for women. The meal preparation continues, and Greer notices that she has finished all her wine and begins daydreaming about telling Cory about that night. As she continues to imagine how Cory would react, Greer cuts her thumb instead of the onion. Faith tells everyone else to go into the other room and helps Greer take care of her cut.

At dinner Faith tells everyone that, if they do not eat meat, they should speak now or forever hold their peace. Greer is about to mention that she does not eat meat, but she does not want to disappoint Faith so she says nothing. When she sees the bloody meat in front of her, Greer tells herself not to get sick, rationalizing that "In eating [the meat], she was being someone Faith would want to continue to confide in and listen to and rely on." She goes on to equate eating meat to sex and thanks the cow just before she swallows the meat. Once back in the city, Greer turns her phone on to find that she has 34 voice mails and 18 texts, most of which are from Manila and, presumably, Cory.


Wolitzer goes back to the use of color to communicate meaning, this time using green. Green communicates varied meanings based on its hue. Primarily it signals growth and harmony, but it can also be associated with money, lack of experience, jealousy, cowardice, and discord. The lights at the foundation are a pale green that is "nearly celery-colored." There is definitely growth happening, as this is a foundation in its infancy and the first major step in Greer growing into her own. Greer is also inexperienced in this new job and the world of Faith Frank. She is essentially a greenhorn, which is a term given to someone who is a novice in their field and has plenty of room to grow in skill. It is also interesting that the color is a pale green that has more yellow in it. The more yellow the shade of green, the more the association tends toward discord, jealousy, and cowardice. There will definitely be some discord and cowardice down the road for Greer and Faith, but at this moment Greer is experiencing a few forms of jealousy. The first instance of jealousy that creates internal discord for her and highlights her own cowardice is the letter Zee gives her. Instead of being honest with Zee, Greer ends up not giving the letter to Faith and then lying about it to Zee when she asks. Zee does not seem to mind and, though disappointed, moves on with her life. The letter will be a sticking point that comes back into the narrative a few times. Greer is also very alone but does not seem brave enough to initiate interactions with her coworkers. Instead, she eats at her desk "in self-conscious aloneness." She is too fearful to reach out in this new environment and retreats to her cubicle that is outfitted with pictures of Cory and the familiar environment. She wants to grow into her own, but her fear is still holding her back.

The associations with green are reinforced when Greer overhears a tense meeting. When it finishes she makes a point to describe the "shush" sound the "greenish glass door" makes as it opens. Green can also be associated with healing in combination with harmony, and when everyone leaves the meeting they have restored relationships, with the tense, raised voices replaced with laughter and smiles. Within this atmosphere of white and green Greer also notices that she is the only coworker to not be invited for drinks after work. She feels "suddenly vulnerable" when she realizes "that she was lonely there." It is then that Emmett Shrader, the venture capitalist who is backing the foundation and is associated with money, comes in and points out that "no one had to invite" Greer. Instead of taking charge of her life and actions, she is waiting for someone to make her world dynamic. In this situation it is Emmett Shrader who fills this role. Once Greer gets to the bar she becomes jealous of how some of her coworkers interact with Faith. When she does get a chance to talk with Faith she mentions her cowardice about the letter from Zee. She is still waiting on someone else, in this case Faith, to take charge and "condemn her or absolve her." When Faith leaves it up to her, Greer chooses inaction. Eventually she thinks about the letter, recognizes her envy, and wonders "if everyone had a certain degree of awfulness inside them," which is reminiscent of her critique in Chapter 2 of Becky Sharp as being "awful in her naked ambition."

Green pops up again when everyone is invited to Faith's home just before the summit. Everybody is vying for Faith's approval and competing with one another. When Greer is selected to cut the onions she makes an observation about her wine glass: it is "sea-glass green" and she is drinking pinot noir. The glass foreshadows a number of events. The first is Greer's cowardice and fear of disappointing Faith. Greer is a vegetarian, but Faith is preparing steaks for her employees. When given the opportunity Greer does not point out that she does not eat meat. The steak then connects back to the color of her wine, but not before Greer cuts her finger and bleeds quite severely. Her bleeding finger matches the bloodiness of the steak she forces herself to eat and the wine she was drinking. Her "green" cowardice set her up to betray her own body with the bloody meat. The pain that cowardice and jealousy eventually cause is signified by the wine's connection to Greer's bloody finger. Greer's fear and idolizing of her mentor has sucked out her ability to exert what little power she still possesses within herself, and she simply goes along with Faith.

As a way of driving home the self-betrayal, when Greer eats the steak she pictures the distant "green blur of a meadow" that served as a place of safety for the cow she is now eating. The dark green of the field coupled with her swallowing the "cubic inch of lost and mournful cow" highlights the greed and ambition that Greer has stepped into. She is growing and is no longer the college student she was the first time she met Faith, but now her ambition is tainting her life. When swallowing the bite of steak it is almost as if she has swallowed up the "lost and mournful" Zee, much like her purse and drawer did when Zee's letter was relegated to the dark depths of both. Greer also describes her mouth as being "a slaughterhouse in miniature" for the piece of meat, but figuratively her words have the power to slaughter as well. When she eventually tells Zee about the letter, it will cut her and nearly sever their friendship.

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