The Female Persuasion

by

Meg Wolitzer

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A guidance counselor at the Teach for Reach school that Zee is assigned to. At first, Noelle is condescending toward Zee. When the two of them get drinks just after witnessing Shara Pick’s labor and delivery, Noelle reveals that she is resentful of people like Zee who join Teach for Reach thinking that they will change the world, when really, they’re just making themselves feel good about contributing to a vague cause. After airing out the tension between them, Noelle and Zee admit their attraction to one another. After spending a night together, the two women embark on a romantic relationship and remain partners for several years.

Noelle Quotes in The Female Persuasion

The The Female Persuasion quotes below are all either spoken by Noelle or refer to Noelle. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of The Female Persuasion published in 2018.
Chapter 7 Quotes

“So you’re saying I should quit now?”

Noelle looked at her steadily. “No, of course I’m not saying that. You shouldn’t do that to these kids, not in the middle of the year. They crave stability. You stay, and you finish the year, and you do your best, and then you decide. Look, I’m sure you’re a fine person, and I’m sure you’re a person who is trying hard to… what do you say to yourself, ‘get involved’? I know that feeling: I have had it myself. But sometimes the way to get involved is to just live your life and be yourself with all your values intact. And by just being you, it’ll happen. Maybe not in big ways, but it’ll happen.”

Related Characters: Zee Eisenstat (speaker), Noelle (speaker)
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:

When they lay down upon the narrow mattress that Zee had purchased at a garage sale upon moving here […] she couldn’t help but think a little bit about power: who had it right now […] Power was hard to understand sometimes. You could not quantify it or calibrate it. You could barely see it, even when you were looking straight at it.

“That’s what everyone was talking about at the first Loci summit,” Greer had said recently on the phone when the subject came up. “The meaning and uses of power […] Everyone who was there said that it was clear that it’s a topic we’re going to return to because no one can get enough of it. It excites everyone. Power! […]”

To live in a world of female power—mutual power—felt like a desirable dream to Zee. Having power meant that the world was like a pasture with the gate left open, and that there was nothing stopping you, and you could run and run.

Related Characters: Greer Kadetsky (speaker), Zee Eisenstat (speaker), Noelle
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Female Persuasion LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Female Persuasion PDF

Noelle Character Timeline in The Female Persuasion

The timeline below shows where the character Noelle appears in The Female Persuasion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
At lunchtimes in the teachers’ lounge, Zee notices a beautiful guidance counselor named Noelle Williams. Noelle never speaks to Zee at lunch and instead eats her yogurt in silence.... (full context)
Activism Theme Icon
...once they get her to a doctor who can remove her appendix she’ll feel better. Noelle appears in the nurse’s office and asks what’s going on, and Zee answers that Shara... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
Noelle softly asks Shara if she knew that she was going to have a baby, and... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
After the stressful afternoon, Noelle and Zee head to a nearby restaurant despite their relative dislike of one another. Shara’s... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
...terrible. She can’t believe she missed the fact that Shara was pregnant, though she tells Noelle that she couldn’t have known, as Shara wore a parka in class. Noelle tells Zee... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Noelle tells Zee that if she hated her, she wouldn’t be at dinner with her. Zee... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
Zee asks Noelle why her background disqualifies her from being able to help students and make a difference.... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
Zee asks Noelle if she should just throw in the towel and quit. Noelle tells her that she... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
After this exchange, an “open playfulness” emerges between Zee and Noelle, and they exchange some banter about their lives and their families. After a while, the... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
After the meal is over, Noelle and Zee are both slightly drunk. Noelle confesses that she purposefully continued drinking once she... (full context)
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
After dinner, Noelle goes home with Zee. The women begin kissing on Zee’s narrow mattress. As Zee and... (full context)
Chapter 10
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
...invites Greer to come to Chicago for a little while to stay with her and Noelle, who live in a young part of town with a “significant lesbian population.” Noelle is... (full context)
Chapter 15
Female Friendship and Mentorship Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
Activism Theme Icon
...wishes that she could tell Faith know about her marriage with Cory, Zee’s marriage with Noelle, Emilia’s birth, and Greer’s own exhaustion in the face of success. Greer wonders if Faith... (full context)