The Female Persuasion

by

Meg Wolitzer

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The Female Persuasion: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After promptly leaving Zee’s apartment, Greer sits in the Chicago airport, waiting for a plane. She calls her mother and confesses some of what has happened. Her mother urges her to come home, and Greer complies.
Greer, having lost the female friendship and mentorship of Greer and Zee, now turns to her mother—an unlikely source of strength and female camaraderie.
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Back in Macopee, Greer accompanies her mother to one of her shows at a local library—Greer has never seen her mother perform in full regalia as a library clown before and is both shocked and relieved to find that the children gathered at the library absolutely love her mother’s performance. Greer watches her mother entertain, comfort, and act with tenderness toward the children, and feels remorse for having never taken her mother seriously.
As Greer returns home and sees her family through new eyes, she realizes that she was so obsessed with the feeling of not fitting in with (and feeling better than) her family, that she discounted the lessons they stood to teach her, and especially the sense of mentorship her mother could have given her.
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
In the car after the performance, Greer asks her mother why she never did her routine for her as a child. Laurel says that Greer was “serious” as a child, and so Laurel always assumed Greer wouldn’t have liked the act. She tells Greer that she and Greer’s father, bewildered by Greer’s intelligence and independence, always thought it would be best to stand back and let Greer carve her own path, especially when she got together with Cory. Laurel tells Greer that she always saw the two of them as “twin rocket ships,” destined for great heights.
Greer and her mother have both had issues with communication over the course of their relationship, and thus have missed many opportunities to share in a sense of friendship, love, and community with one another.
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Laurel asks Greer what happened in New York, and Greer confesses everything. She says she was humiliated by how Faith turned on her in the end, and now Greer feels “destroyed.” She asks her mother what she should do now, and her mother advises her to use the money she has saved up to buy herself some time and take things slow. She reassures Greer that even if Greer takes some time for herself, she will never become directionless like her parents—she doesn’t have to feel rushed and can wait and see where her passions lie. Greer falls apart further, though, when she confesses her betrayal of Zee. Her mother passes her a tissue and simply assures Greer that she has time to work on things.
Greer, having failed in her friendship with Zee and her complicated mentor-mentee relationship with Faith, now finds herself turning to her mother for guidance. Laurel’s advice is surprisingly sound—she wants Greer to focus on what is going to make her happy and repair the broken pieces of her life.
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
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As Greer and Laurel pull up to the house, Greer sees Cory through the car window. She thinks that he looks different—like a “young suburban dad.” Greer is startled by how Cory appears to have fully inhabited his life in Macopee. Greer gets out of the car, goes over to Cory, and hugs him. The two of them decide to go out for pizza and catch up. 
Greer and Cory, once “twin rocket ships” according to Laurel, have chosen vastly different paths which have ultimately isolated themselves from one another and created a perceived imbalance of power between them.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
At the pizza parlor, Greer tells Cory that she quit her job but doesn’t go into any details. She asks Cory what’s new with him, and he tells her that he is still cleaning houses but has also gotten a job at a computer store in Northampton. He enjoys solving other people’s problems throughout his days, both cleaning and at the store. In addition, he has been working on creating a video game called SoulFinder, where a player tries to find the person they have lost. Cory tells Greer that Benedita is doing well, and things in the house are calm and stable. Greer asks Cory if he’s going to be home for the long run, and Cory replies, “If this isn’t the long run, I don’t know what is.”
Even after all this time, Greer is still unable to accept or comprehend the choices that Cory has made. Although Cory is carving out a satisfying life for himself, Greer still can’t see how he is fulfilled. Instead, she continues to pity him for shouldering the burden of his family’s unthinkable loss. Greer doesn’t understand that Cory gains a sense of empowerment and stability from the life he has chosen for himself—she is only able to see all that he lost when he chose not to join her in New York.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Greer tells Cory that if he ever comes to the city, he can stay with her in Brooklyn on her sleeper sofa. As she and Cory part ways, she thinks about how they were once twin rocket ships, but she doesn’t say anything to him about it. Before leaving, Greer suddenly asks how Slowy the turtle is, and Cory replies that though there’s not really a way to know how Slowy’s doing, he seems “basically the same.”
In this passage, Slowy’s function as a symbol for the grieving process is reflected in the way Cory talks about the animal. It is impossible to really gauge where one is in the healing process. Just as Slowy is “basically the same” every day, Cory still feels surrounded by his grief, even though he and has mother have found some measure of healing over the years.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
A few days later, it is Greer’s last night in town. Her parents have eaten with her every night during her visit, sensing that their daughter does not want to be alone. Now, they ask Greer how Cory’s doing, and she tells them—rather dismissively—that he’s cleaning houses and living with his mother. Laurel points out that though she’s not the one who works at a feminist foundation, she thinks that Cory—who has given up his plans to attend to his grieving family, spends his days taking care of his mother, and cleans houses for a living—might be “kind of a big feminist.”
Greer’s mother points out that Cory actually shares Greer’s feminist values—and is possibly more committed to them than Greer is. He is clearly dedicated to feminism, supporting the community, and helping those who otherwise might not have any a sense of agency and empowerment. It seems that Greer is still caught up in Loci’s flashy, celebrity-endorsed brand of feminism and is unable to see how Cory, living at home and cleaning houses, could possibly fit into that world.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon