The Female Persuasion

by

Meg Wolitzer

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The Female Persuasion: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Greer has come down to New York City by bus to interview with Faith Frank for a position at Bloomer. Though she doesn’t really love the magazine—it has not embraced radical politics like some of its competitors and has grown “soft”—she knows that she wants to be in Faith’s presence.
Even though Greer knows that Bloomer’s politics are not as radical as the ones she aspires to, she thinks that a place beside Faith Frank is worth the sacrifice. This introduces the ways in which Greer will continue to sacrifice her own values for Faith.
Themes
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When Greer rings the bell at Bloomer’s office, no one answers. She reflects on the recent weeks leading up to this moment—after a disappointing job search, Greer finally decided to use Faith’s business card and called the magazine to introduce herself. The next day, Faith’s assistant had called her back and offered her an interview, noting that Faith remembered Greer. At last, the door to Bloomer’s office building opens. Inside the office, Greer can see Faith comforting a crying woman. A nearby employee tells Greer that Amelia Bloomer, the woman for whom the magazine was named, has died, and that the magazine will be folding soon.
Greer’s dreams of working alongside Faith Frank seem, in this moment, utterly dashed. Greer has had a difficult time finding a path for herself that will take her through her first years out of college, and with the shuttering of Bloomer, it seems as if the most appealing avenue is off-limits.
Themes
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Faith gathers her staff around her and gives a speech, while the stunned Greer looks on. Faith congratulates her fellow editors for all their hard work and urges them to recognize that no matter what, they are all a part of “the history of women’s struggle for equality.” First, she tells the women not to cry, but then she urges her employees to get all of their emotions out, so that they can go right back to work doing something new. The staff applauds Faith, and Greer, feeling “congested with disappointment,” disappears back into the hallway.
Greer is completely disappointed to have missed the opportunity to work with Faith but is nonetheless galvanized by witnessing Faith speaking so generously and so enthusiastically to her employees even in the wake of a great tragedy and demoralizing news. Faith is skillful in any situation, Greer realizes, and is always there for the women she works with and supports.
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
That night, Greer writes Faith an email, thanking her for her tireless work at Bloomer and lamenting the missed opportunity at an interview with Faith. She then forgets about the job and sends her resume out to different companies and nonprofits. One day, Cory announces disappointing news: the consulting firm that hired him, Armitage & Rist, wants him to work in their Manila office in the Philippines and are offering him more money to do so. Greer is upset and wonders if she and Cory will ever get the chance to be together in the same place. Cory tells Greer that he has to take the job, and Greer reluctantly supports him.
Nothing is working out quite like Greer thought it would. She had imagined that she and Cory would both get jobs in the city and start their lives in Brooklyn right away, but now two major obstacles have cropped up—Greer’s failed opportunity at Bloomer and Cory’s relocation. Greer dejectedly realizes that her dreams of domestic bliss and feminist utopias will have to wait.
Themes
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Greer and Zee pack up their dorm room, sad to leave college and disappointed by the lackluster lives waiting for them. Zee is moving home to Scarsdale, New York to live with her parents and train to be a paralegal. Her parents have “semi-forced” her into this plan, since Zee has no other job opportunities lined up. Zee’s desire to be an activist and a community organizer seems silly to her parents, who are both judges.
Zee finds herself having to make a large compromise, too, as she is forced to forgo her activists dreams in favor of pursuing something less exciting but more practical at the behest of her parents.
Themes
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Greer, meanwhile, heads home to Macopee and takes a job at the local roller rink while she figures out what to do next. She is no longer angry with her parents but feels disconnected from them and longs to leave home as soon as she can. As she and Cory adjust to the time difference between them, they miss one another deeply and continue to dream of the day when they’ll finally live together.
Greer has always felt as if she deserves to be somewhere other than where she is, and as she moves home in the wake of graduation, that feeling is only perpetuated. Cory’s high-profile job in the Philippines compared to Greer’s job at the local roller rink mirrors the way that Cory went to Princeton while Greer was forced to attend Ryland.
Themes
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Late one night, Greer receives an email from Faith Frank. Apologizing for not having written back sooner, Faith thanks Greer for her kind note and says that she is putting together a team for a “grand new venture.” She can’t provide more details about it but asks if Greer would like to interview for the project. Greer writes back right away and tells Faith that she is “VERY” interested in arranging an interview. Faith writes back instantaneously, telling Greer that her assistant will be in touch in the morning to schedule something. At the end of her email, Faith asks why the two of them are still awake and jokingly suggests they hit themselves over the head with frying pans to get to sleep. Greer writes back that she is too excited by the prospect of an interview to sleep at all.
Greer longs for friendship and community, but there is little of it to be found in Macopee. When Faith’s email arrives, Greer is ecstatic—it seems as if some of her dreams might come true after all. Greer is surprised but thrilled by the easy camaraderie in her email exchange with Faith. Greer is still so desperate to work with her idol that she agrees to an interview despite not even knowing what the “grand new venture” is about. Once again, Greer prioritizes Faith in her decision-making process. 
Themes
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Three days later, Greer returns to New York for an interview with Faith. At a midtown skyscraper, Greer meets Faith’s assistant, Iffat Khan, who brings Greer into Faith’s office. Faith greets Greer warmly, and Greer hands Faith a frying pan, which she has bought as a gag gift. Faith appreciates the gesture but tells Greer that she wants to “get down to business.” She begins telling Greer that after Bloomer closed, she received a call from an old friend, Emmett Shrader, a famous venture capitalist, who made an offer to fund a women’s foundation which will connect speakers and audiences and discuss “the most urgent issues concerning women today.” Faith knows that there will be some backlash to the venture, since “Shrader being Shrader,” has funded “questionable ventures” over the years. Though the foundation is a risk, it’s one Faith wants to take.
Greer’s gag gift is a gesture of admiration and a reference to the small inside joke they shared a few days earlier. As Faith brings Greer up to speed on her “grand new venture” she couches the story of her new foundation in a reasonable amount of doubt and worry. However, even Faiths’ reservations about her own undertaking do not seem to deter Greer from enthusiastically wanting to be a part of whatever Faith is up to next.
Themes
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Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
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Faith goes on to tell Greer that she does what she can in the name of women’s issues. She knows that women in powerful positions are often subjected to criticism, but she also knows from her years of work as an activist that “the world is big enough for different kinds of feminists to coexist.” Faith excitedly tells Greer that though the main focus of the venture will be speakers and summits, there will occasionally be room for a “special emergency project” that directly impacts the lives of women all over the world. The entire venture sounds “blurry” and vague to Greer, but she nonetheless wants the position badly.
Even after meeting with Faith, Greer still doesn’t fully understand the aims or machinations of Faith’s new organization, but it doesn’t matter. Greer cares more about having the chance to spend as much time as she can around her idol than whatever Faith’s venture will actually do. In addition, both Greer and Faith seem less concerned with actually accomplishing their activist goals than with finding a space which appears to support them.
Themes
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Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
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Faith tells Greer that the foundation will be called Loci, and that they’ll need to assemble a team quickly to get things off the ground. Emmett Shrader, she says, has already rented out an entire floor of the building for Loci’s offices. Faith gestures to the ceiling and informs Greer that ShraderCapital’s offices are just upstairs from them. Faith tells Greer that she is a promising individual and offers her a job. Greer excitedly accepts, and Faith warns her that much of the entry-level job will be boring at first, but there will be many opportunities to get involved in all aspects of the foundation. As Faith explains the specifics of the job, Greer is so excited that she can hardly sit still. 
This passage cements the fact that Greer doesn’t really care about the specifics of working for Faith Frank. Instead, Greer just wants to spend time in Faith’s presence, learning from her and continuing to idolize her. Greer prioritizes Faith over Greer’s own values and aspirations—something that will resonate throughout Greer’s entire career at Loci.
Themes
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Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
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Two weeks later, Zee helps Greer to move into a small studio apartment in Brooklyn. The apartment is tiny and dingy, but Greer is excited to have a place all to herself. Greer gives Cory a tour of the space via video chat and excitedly tells him that one day he’ll get to come visit her neighborhood. After Greer is completely moved in, it is time for Zee to go. Zee doesn’t want to leave, and Greer doesn’t want her to go either, so Greer offers to give Zee a key so that she can come visit any time. When Zee leaves, Greer feels lonely, but she slowly begins exploring her new neighborhood and settling into her new building.
Zee proves herself to be a steadfast and attentive friend. Though Greer has just gotten what is ostensibly Zee’s dream job, Zee is not jealous—instead, she happily helps her friend to move into her new apartment and supports her as she begins a new chapter in her life. Once again, Zee selflessly supports Greer and her dreams, foreshadowing the way that Greer will soon fail to do the same.
Themes
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A few nights later, Zee comes back to Brooklyn to meet Greer for a drink. Both girls are starting their new jobs the next day. Zee praises Greer for having secured such an awesome job and then reaches into her pocket to give Greer something. Greer thinks that Zee is going to give her some kind of good-luck gift, but instead Zee pulls out an envelope. Greer thinks it must hold a heartfelt letter, and she thanks Zee, but Zee informs her that the letter inside is for Faith. Zee is desperate not to be a paralegal and wants to ask Faith for a job. She asks Greer to deliver the letter directly to Faith for her—Greer is shocked and a little upset.
When Zee returns to Brooklyn, she does so with a mission in mind. She is still not outwardly jealous of Greer, or at all cruel or even snide about Greer’s having secured a career that Zee has long been dreaming of. Instead, Zee humbly asks if there is a seat for her at the proverbial table. Rather than reacting with excitement or empathy, though, Greer puts up her defenses, not wanting to share the spotlight with her friend in any way. In addition, Greer initially thinks the letter is a good-luck gift or a heartfelt letter, suggesting that Greer is used to taking rather than giving in her friendship with Zee.
Themes
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Zee rambles about how amazing it would be if they could both work for Faith and share in such an exciting and meaningful job. Meanwhile, Greer realizes that although she can envision herself giving the letter to Faith and recommending Zee for the job, Greer does not actually want to advocate for Zee. Greer leans the letter against her beer bottle, but it soon drops onto the surface of the bar.
Greer knows that she has power in this situation. Although she doesn’t yet know what she’ll do, the symbolic falling of the letter represents her lack of desire to help Zee deliver it to Faith.
Themes
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon