The Female Persuasion

Zee Eisenstat Character Analysis

Zee Eisenstat is a lesbian feminist activist and is Greer’s first real friend in college. Zee introduces Greer to the world of feminist thought and the work of second-wave feminist icon, Faith Frank. When Zee brings Greer to one of Faith’s lectures, it is Greer—not Zee—who forms a connection with Faith and eventually secures a job at Faith’s feminist startup, Loci. Zee’s parents, both judges, slightly disapprove of their daughter’s sexuality and encourage her to pursue a normal and straightforward career as a paralegal. Headstrong, hopeful, and idealistic, Zee decides that she wants to work for Loci like Greer, so she brings Greer a letter to give to Faith. Ultimately, Greer selfishly withholds the letter and lies to Zee, claiming that Faith read Zee’s letter but can’t offer her a position in the small company. Following this disappointment, Zee moves to Chicago, where she joins Teach and Reach, an organization that places young teachers in underfunded schools within at-risk neighborhoods. The trauma and pain Zee witnesses during her time at Teach and Reach frustrate her, as she is unable to truly make a difference or relate to her students’ hardships. Zee comes to recognize that her identity as an activist has been more for her own satisfaction than the betterment of those around her. Zee eventually pursues a career in emergency response as a traumatologist, which allows her to directly communicate with and provide tangible, meaningful aid to those in need.

Zee Eisenstat Quotes in The Female Persuasion

The The Female Persuasion quotes below are all either spoken by Zee Eisenstat or refer to Zee Eisenstat. 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 1  Quotes

“She’s probably one of those women who hates women,” said Zee. “A total cunt.” Then she began to sing her own version of a song from a musical that her parents used to like: “Women… women who hate women… are the cuntiest women… in the world…”

Greer said, “That’s terrible! You shouldn’t say cunt.”

“Oh, come on,” Zee went on. “I can say what I want. That’s having agency.”

“You shouldn’t say agency,” said Greer. “That’s worse.”

Related Characters: Greer Kadetsky (speaker), Zee Eisenstat (speaker)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
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Then, beside her, in the pew, Zee’s arm went up too. Of course she had a real question, a political one; she probably even had follow-ups. Faith nodded her head in their direction. At first it was unclear which of them she was calling on. But then she saw Faith seem to zero in on her, specifically her, Greer, and Greer looked quizzically at Zee, making sure she was reading this right. Zee gave her a quick, affirmative nod, as if to say: Yes. This is yours. Zee even smiled, wanting Greer to have it.

Related Characters: Greer Kadetsky (speaker), Zee Eisenstat (speaker), Faith Frank
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
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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:
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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:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

“These are not shy-person actions, Greer, I’m just saying. They’re something else. Sneaky, maybe.” Coldly, Zee added, “You really know how to act in the face of power. I’ve never put that together before, but it’s true […] You went to work for Faith Frank, the role model, the feminist, and I didn’t. But you know what? I think there are two kinds of feminists. The famous ones, and everyone else. Everyone else, all the people who just quietly go and do what they’re supposed to do, and don’t get a lot of credit for it, and don’t have someone out there every day telling them they’re doing an awesome job. I don’t have a mentor, Greer, and I’ve never had one. But I’ve had different women in my life who I like to be around […] I don’t need their approval. I don’t need their permission. You want to know how often I think about the fact that I didn’t get to work for Faith Frank? Almost never.”

Related Characters: Zee Eisenstat (speaker), Greer Kadetsky, Faith Frank
Page Number: 367-368
Explanation and Analysis:
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Zee Eisenstat Character Timeline in The Female Persuasion

The timeline below shows where the character Zee Eisenstat appears in The Female Persuasion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
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...girl out of the dorm and into the chilly evening. The girl introduces herself as Zee Eisenstat, and the two of them begin hopping from party to party. As they interact... (full context)
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...one party, which consists mainly of art students, a girl named Chloe offers to bring Zee and Greer with her to a fraternity party. The girls accept. At the frat house,... (full context)
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...days, Greer tells anyone who will listen—including Cory—about what happened to her at the party. Zee urges Greer to report Darren Tinzler to the university administration. Zee is “innately, bracingly political,”... (full context)
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...long as he completes three counseling sessions with a therapist who specializes in impulse control. Zee reasons that the head of the disciplinary committee is probably “one of those women who... (full context)
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Greer and Zee order a bulk supply of t-shirts and spend a long night in their dorm’s basement... (full context)
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Zee sees an announcement for Faith’s lecture in the college’s weekly newspaper and encourages Greer to... (full context)
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Greer and Zee arrive at the chapel where Faith is speaking. The venue is packed, and Faith is... (full context)
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...up. At the last moment, as the event is about to end, both Greer and Zee raise their hand. Greer fears that whatever Zee is going to ask will be more... (full context)
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...do about “the way it is” for women. Greer points out the t-shirts she and Zee are wearing and informs Faith of the university’s mishandling of the assault and harassment case... (full context)
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...surround her. Greer also wants to talk with Faith more but thinks it is hopeless. Zee and Greer resign themselves to getting a pizza and returning to their dorm, but on... (full context)
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When the girls enter the bathroom, Faith is already in a stall. Zee and Greer each head into a stall on either side of her and wait for... (full context)
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Greer feels that her moment with Faith is about to end, knowing that Zee will come out of her stall at any moment. Greer continues talking with Faith, confessing... (full context)
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Zee compliments Faith on her lecture and begins gushing about she has “always” been a “super-fan.”... (full context)
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...is an accomplishment of sorts. Faith closes her wallet and leaves, bidding both Greer and Zee a good evening. (full context)
Chapter 2
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Zee’s parents have allowed her to take their Volvo to college but have instructed her not... (full context)
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...writing to Faith to thank her for her words that night in the bathroom. Although Zee encourages her to use the email on the business card, Greer doesn’t think that Faith... (full context)
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Greer has been spending lots of time with Zee, but also with Kelvin Yang and his roommate Dog—two boys who live right upstairs from... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Greer and Zee pack up their dorm room, sad to leave college and disappointed by the lackluster lives... (full context)
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Two weeks later, Zee helps Greer to move into a small studio apartment in Brooklyn. The apartment is tiny... (full context)
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A few nights later, Zee comes back to Brooklyn to meet Greer for a drink. Both girls are starting their... (full context)
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Zee rambles about how amazing it would be if they could both work for Faith and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...worries that she has displeased Faith in some way, but when Greer enters Faith’s office—with Zee’s letter tucked into a folder, as she has been waiting for a good time to... (full context)
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...feels that it has gone well and does not want to complicate things by introducing Zee’s letter, so she does not bring it up. As she walks back down the hall... (full context)
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...feminism and misogyny, Greer listens to her coworkers’ playful banter and finds herself wishing that Zee were here with her. She remembers, with more than a twinge of shame, that she... (full context)
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...evening has been a great success, even the “difficult” confession she made to Faith concerning Zee’s letter. (full context)
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By Monday, Greer has forgotten about Zee’s letter almost entirely, and Faith does not mention it. Several days later, Greer finally remembers... (full context)
Chapter 7
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In Scarsdale, New York, Zee Eisenstat adjusts to living at home with her wealthy and successful parents, Wendy and Richard,... (full context)
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...her job she likes is the strange camaraderie between the paralegals. As one of them, Zee is often asked to stay late at the office, and while the paralegals wait for... (full context)
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Zee has also enjoyed a chaste flirtation with another woman at work but is reluctant to... (full context)
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From a young age, Zee was stirred by “all kinds of social justice movements,” and she had trouble keeping up... (full context)
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Now, living at home, Zee feels that she is in “a moment of flux.” She is living a life that... (full context)
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Zee was bummed, but not miserable, when Greer said that Faith had read Zee’s letter but... (full context)
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Zee reflects on her complicated relationship with her parents, whose profession as judges often bleeds into... (full context)
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Zee was born Franny Eisenstat, named for a character from a famous novel, Franny and Zooey,... (full context)
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At Franny’s bat mitzvah, she watched as several of her classmates made gay jokes and mocked lesbians—two... (full context)
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By the time she was sixteen, Franny was more in touch with her sexuality, and in order to test the waters, she... (full context)
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As Franny shyly ordered a beer, she could feel herself being watched, and when she turned around,... (full context)
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Franny visited the bar more and more often, and she eventually experienced her first sexual encounter... (full context)
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Franny took many more trips into the city to Ben-Her over the years, but one night,... (full context)
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Franny was initially reluctant to open up in the sessions, but she soon came to enjoy... (full context)
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Years later, while hunting down a book for her psychology class at Ryland, Zee came upon a book written by the therapist she went to in high school. She... (full context)
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Zee only told Greer about her discovery of the unfair, cruel article, and though Zee tried... (full context)
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Zee distracted herself from her confusion and misery by throwing herself into simultaneous affairs with two... (full context)
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Now, Zee feels restless living at home and working at the law firm. By winter, she knows... (full context)
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Zee is frankly startled by how easy it is to get a job with Teach and... (full context)
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Zee begins teaching history at a charter school that is part of a corporation—Learning Octagon. Zee... (full context)
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As the weeks go by, Zee finds herself struggling to get her students to listen to her or even to pay... (full context)
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At lunchtimes in the teachers’ lounge, Zee notices a beautiful guidance counselor named Noelle Williams. Noelle never speaks to Zee at lunch... (full context)
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One afternoon, a month into Zee’s teaching position at Learning Octagon, one of Zee’s students, Shara Pick, raises her hand and... (full context)
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...bathroom, Shara is curled up on the floor, holding her stomach and complaining of pain. Zee and her student carry Shara to the nurse’s office and lay her down on the... (full context)
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...have a baby, and Shara confesses that she did. Noelle tells Shara that she and Zee are going to help her, and in that moment, everything speeds up. The nurse calls... (full context)
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After the stressful afternoon, Noelle and Zee head to a nearby restaurant despite their relative dislike of one another. Shara’s grandmother arrived... (full context)
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Zee feels terrible. She can’t believe she missed the fact that Shara was pregnant, though she... (full context)
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Noelle tells Zee that if she hated her, she wouldn’t be at dinner with her. Zee says that... (full context)
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Zee asks Noelle why her background disqualifies her from being able to help students and make... (full context)
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Zee asks Noelle if she should just throw in the towel and quit. Noelle tells her... (full context)
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After this exchange, an “open playfulness” emerges between Zee and Noelle, and they exchange some banter about their lives and their families. After a... (full context)
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After the meal is over, Noelle and Zee are both slightly drunk. Noelle confesses that she purposefully continued drinking once she realized she... (full context)
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After dinner, Noelle goes home with Zee. The women begin kissing on Zee’s narrow mattress. As Zee and Noelle undress, Zee wonders... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...make a statement about how much she cares about women, when years ago, Greer stabbed Zee in the back by refusing to give her letter to Faith. Greer feels as if... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Three and a half years after leaving Teach and Reach, Zee Eisenstat is now working as a crisis response counselor. When she first became interested in... (full context)
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Zee’s job takes her all over Chicago, as she visits people at their homes in the... (full context)
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One day, Greer calls, and announces that she has quit her job. She tells Zee that things with Faith ended badly, and that “a lot of shit went down.” Greer... (full context)
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The next day, Greer rings the bell at Zee’s apartment, and Zee lets her in. Zee is prepared to help Greer sort through her... (full context)
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...visibly tense and upset, and confesses that there is “something else” she has to tell Zee. She takes a deep breath and tells Zee that she never gave Faith the letter.... (full context)
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...possessiveness about Loci, the foundation ultimately didn’t do anything close to the important work that Zee is doing now. Zee asks Greer why she betrayed her—after all, Zee was the one... (full context)
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Zee suddenly feels exhausted by her friendship with Greer and wishes that Greer was not staying... (full context)
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Instead, Zee tells Greer that she could have just confessed all those years ago that she wasn’t... (full context)
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Zee confesses that she felt jealous of Greer when Faith showed more interest in Greer in... (full context)
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Zee tells Greer that she is perfectly happy with her life and feels confident that she... (full context)
Chapter 11
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After promptly leaving Zee’s apartment, Greer sits in the Chicago airport, waiting for a plane. She calls her mother... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...for herself to mourn the end of her journey with Loci—and with Faith. Greer and Zee have exchanged some emails, and things seem to be “thawing” between the two of them. (full context)
Chapter 15
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...success. At home, Greer and Cory put Emilia to bed. Greer gets a text from Zee, who is still in Chicago. The text urges Greer to call Zee; she has something... (full context)
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Greer calls Zee, and then Zee sends her a link to an internet video. The video features a... (full context)
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Greer tells Zee that she wants to start a foundation of her own to help combat exactly this... (full context)
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...her life. She 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... (full context)