The Female Persuasion

by

Meg Wolitzer

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The Female Persuasion: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Faith emails Emmett Shrader to invite him to her apartment, and he knows from the terse nature of the note that something is wrong. When he arrives at her fancy apartment on Riverside Drive on a Sunday evening, she immediately informs him that she is furious with him. When he asks why, she urges him to try and figure it out for himself, but Emmett cannot think of anything. Finally, Frank says the name Lupe Izurieta and asks Emmett if it sounds familiar to him. Emmett does not know what Faith is talking about. When Faith mentions Ecuador, however, the pieces click into place, and Emmett remembers Lupe as someone he has “paid a lot of money to rescue.”
A confrontation between Faith and Emmett is long overdue. The two of them have been circling one another for nearly forty years, each knowing that the other possesses something they want or need: Emmett has the capital Faith needs to establish a platform for her goals and ideals, and Faith has the fire that Emmett so badly desires in his own life.
Themes
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
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Faith asks Emmett if it’s true that the mentorship program doesn’t exist. Emmett carefully replies that it was “supposed to have existed,” and asks whether that counts for anything. Faith begs Emmett to tell her what happened. Emmett shamefully admits that though a lot of discussion around the mentorship program went on at ShraderCapital, he was never fully paying attention. Emmett’s attention span is notoriously terrible, and as he sits in Faith’s apartment trying to recall what transpired in the meetings about Ecuador, he has trouble remembering the specifics regarding what went wrong.
Emmett’s lame excuse for having allowed so much to fall through the cracks when it came to the mentorship program is reflective of his total ignorance of the gravity of Faith’s struggle. Faith cannot afford to tune out of her own life and make mistakes, whereas Emmett moves through his days with barely a thought to the consequences his actions might carry. Once again, this highlights the stark contrast between men and women in positions of power.
Themes
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Emmett remembers that Faith asked him to do a special project concerning sex trafficking in Ecuador, but that he handed it over to two of his associates rather than get on it himself. They developed a plan to rescue the girls and then institute a mentorship program, and Emmett was pleased with the idea. During a meeting to finalize the details of it, however, Emmett’s attention dropped off. He recalls that the order of command changed, and a new woman was brought onto the project, but she proved to be poor with follow-through. She took ShraderCapital’s money but never hired any mentors.
Though Emmett claimed to have a hazy memory of what happened to the mentorship program, it’s clear that he does remember quite a lot—and what he remembers is his total lack of interest in an important investment of time, money, energy, and resources. Emmett is not an activist and slapping his name on an activist organization has not made him into a better feminist or a better community member.
Themes
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Emmett recalls a meeting with his advisors in which they discussed what to do with the realization that they had essentially been swindled. Donations toward the program were still coming in, but because they were legally part of a restricted gift, the donations couldn’t be used for anything else immediately. One of Emmett’s advisors suggested letting the money sit tight and simply using it for Faith’s next special project, and then urged everyone in the room to keep quiet about what they had just discussed.
Emmett does recall what happened well enough—he knew that strings were being pulled and people were being urged to keep the truth under wraps. At the time, he told himself that he was doing all he could for Faith even in a bad situation by keeping the money set aside for her to use on another project.
Themes
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Emmett, with his “flealike” attention span, never followed up on what had transpired in that meeting and never told Faith what was going on. Now, Faith tells Emmett that Greer Kadetsky was contacted by a whistleblower who revealed the truth about the mentorship program, and though Emmett asks Faith to name the whistleblower, she does not. Emmett is wistful for the early days of Loci, which felt like “being young all over again”—he felt engaged with Faith and as excited by her as he had been so many years earlier.
Despite the gravity of the situation—or, perhaps, even because of it—Emmett never thought it was important enough to solve the Ecuador crisis once and for all. Emmett now longs for the simpler, earlier days of Loci, when he felt connected to Faith without the baggage of this scandal between them. Emmett’s wistfulness suggests that Loci may have always been a way for Emmett to be close to Faith—not to actually help women.
Themes
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Emmett reflects on his marriage, which had been the barrier between him and Faith back in the 1970s. His wife had always called the shots—it was her family’s money that allowed ShraderCapital to get off the ground. Though Emmett was often unfaithful to his wife, the two of them had an arrangement, and his infidelities were never of real concern to her—until Faith. His wife, realizing that this time had been different, ordered Emmett to cut off all contact with Faith, threatened by Emmett’s intellectual attraction to her. Then, to distract him, his wife placed a massive sum of money into an account in Emmett’s name and offered him the chance to start his own company.
Emmett, in essence, started the foundation in order to get closer to Faith Frank after his own wife impeded on his chance to find happiness with Faith back in the seventies. Though Emmett was a playboy, he felt a genuine connection to Faith and wanted to pursue it further. It’s hard to say what kind of new avenues and perspectives a relationship with Faith could have opened up for Emmett—he could have become a real activist rather than simply a man with money trying to get the attention of a woman.
Themes
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After his wife’s phone call to Faith, Emmett did not speak to Faith for forty years. Though he had his share of affairs, he never met anyone like Faith again. Eventually, Emmett’s wife left him for another man, and Emmett conducted numerous liaisons with young women all over the country—and the world—as he traveled for business. One morning, when he saw a mention about Bloomer’s dissolution in the newspaper, he was motivated to call Faith Frank and make her a proposition. Faith and Emmett found themselves face-to-face for the first time in forty years after Emmett called Faith in to discuss the possibility of creating Loci. Although Faith was wary of going into business with Emmett, she agreed to come on board at Loci. ShraderCapital rehabilitated its image, and Emmett got to see Faith almost every single day, after missing her for so many years.
From the very beginning, Loci stood to benefit Faith and Emmett in very different ways. Faith had been “begging for scraps” for years at Bloomer—Emmett knew this intimately, as Faith had come to him forty years ago asking for ad money. By creating Loci, Faith would have enormous financial resources for her platform and her mission. At the same time, Emmett’s company would experience an influx of good press and goodwill from the public. Although they established Loci ostensibly in the name of activism, both Faith and Emmett knew that the arrangement also had enormous personal benefits.
Themes
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Now, in her apartment, Faith tells Emmett that she cannot believe that he steeped their organization in lies simply due to his short attention span. Emmett begs Faith not to ice him out. Faith tells him that she has decided what to do and warns him to listen carefully to her. She tells him that she is not going to make a “stink.” She does not want to put the foundation in danger, and she cannot afford to quit her job. She vows to pay closer attention to what is going on upstairs at ShraderCapital. She tells Emmett that she was put on Earth to work for women and will keep doing it no matter what—she is not going anywhere. 
Faith has already told Greer that she plans to stay at Loci. In her usual fashion, Faith has weighed the costs and benefits of her work as an activist—this time in terms of continuing on at Loci. She now tells this to Emmett but warns him that she’ll be putting a close watch on him—and on ShraderCapital—in order to ensure that they are actually helping her achieve her goals.
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
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Related Quotes
Emmett is relieved. He asks Faith to confirm that no one knows anything about the mentorship program other than Greer Kadetsky and asks Faith to reassure him that Greer won’t say something. Faith laments having lost Greer as an employee, as Greer was someone she had taken under her wing. She urges Emmett to take some of his own employees under his and gestures to a pile of gifts at the foot of the sofa—things that her mentees have given her over the years. She is going through the gifts and thinning out her belongings. Emmett looks through the pile, reading notes from women who look up to her, and remarks that it must be burdensome “to be the most important person to people who aren’t all that important to you.” Faith, however, tells Emmett that her admirers and mentees “keep [her] in the world.”
This passage cements the realization that Faith Frank is an activist and a mentor for many reasons—some more selfish than others. Faith loves receiving gifts and notes from former mentees and women whose lives she’s touched. Her relevance has been threatened countless times over the years, and it is her fans, rather than her work, that keep her going, and keep her “in the world”—that is, Faith’s fans ensure that she remains as adored and relevant as she was at the very start of her career. 
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Emmett suddenly remarks that he has done everything wrong—he should have left his wife for Faith when he had the chance all those years ago. He laments all that could have been between them and despairs that Faith now thinks of him as an “awful” person. As he puts Faith’s gifts and notes back into their pile, he wonders what he could possibly do to show her how he feels about her. He then realizes he has already given her something: a foundation.
Though Emmett feels awful about how things have gone between him and Faith, he ultimately realizes that things haven’t been all bad—he has given Faith one of the greatest gifts of all, an influential platform, and has done perhaps more work than anyone in service of keeping Faith “in the world.”
Themes
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon