The Female Persuasion


Meg Wolitzer

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Slowy the Turtle Symbol Analysis

Slowy the Turtle Symbol Icon

Alby Pinto’s slow-moving turtle—aptly named Slowy—comes to represent the slow, messy, and often life-stalling process of grief. During his short life, Alby spends hours each day studying, taking copious notes about Slowy’s each and every move. Alby’s dedication to his turtle actually ends up being the cause of Alby’s death. While Alby is lying in the driveway and observing Slowy, Alby and Cory’s mother, Benedita, backs her car over Alby and crushes him to death. After Alby’s death, Cory begins caring for the turtle, revering it as one of the last remaining vestiges of Alby’s short life on Earth. As Cory cares for Slowy over the years, Slowy comes to symbolize Cory’s struggle to wade through the thick muck of grief. Cory, who had graduated from Princeton and taken a high-profile, high-paying job at a consulting firm in Manila, puts his whole life on hold to return home and nurse his mother through her grief and resulting insanity. At the end of the novel, Cory’s girlfriend-turned-wife, Greer, realizes that the social capital and power she is enjoying now as a successful feminist writer will not last. As she considers this, she imagines how every afternoon for several years, Cory sat alone in his brother’s room with only Slowy for company. She wonders if the turtle will “outlive them all,” as she realizes that the power of grief, pain, and slow acceptance of one’s fate is the only true power in the world.

Slowy the Turtle Quotes in The Female Persuasion

The The Female Persuasion quotes below all refer to the symbol of Slowy the Turtle. 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 15 Quotes

Kay wandered around, curious, excited, flipping through the different books on the shelves, finding ones that Greer hadn't lent her but which looked good, then eating from Greer's stash of cashews, swiping a couple of Greer's multivitamins from the big amber bottle on the kitchen counter, as if they might give her the energy, power, and stature that she would need, going forward. Kay went into the den and looked at the soft easy chair there, the reading lamp angled beside it. Sit in the chair, Kay, Greer thought. Lean back and close your eyes. Imagine being me. It's not so great, but imagine it anyway. At Loci, they had all talked loftily about power, creating summits around it as though it was a quantifiable thing that would last forever. But it wouldn't, and you didn't know that when you were just starting out. Greer thought of Cory sitting in his brother's bedroom, far from anything having to do with power, taking Slowy out of his box and placing him nearby on the blue carpet. Slowy blinking, moving an arm, craning his head forward. Power eventually slid away, Greer thought. People did what they could, as powerfully as they could, until they couldn't do it anymore. There wasn't much time. In the end, she thought, the turtle might outlive them all.

Related Characters: Greer Kadetsky (speaker), Kay Chung
Related Symbols: Slowy the Turtle
Page Number: 454
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Female Persuasion PDF

Slowy the Turtle Symbol Timeline in The Female Persuasion

The timeline below shows where the symbol Slowy the Turtle appears in The Female Persuasion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Family and Community Theme Icon
...and Cory both doted constantly on Alby and played with him and his pet turtle, Slowy. (full context)
Chapter 6
Family and Community Theme Icon
...refers to the object waving its arm, Cory realizes that Alby’s notes all refer to Slowy, his pet turtle. (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Slowy is not in his box in the corner of the room, and Cory realizes with... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
...that Alby’s death had not been Benedita’s fault—Alby had been lying on the ground studying Slowy. This news does not change Duarte’s demeanor at all, though, and over the next several... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
...unpleasant note, and Cory returns to his household duties, caring for his mother and feeding Slowy. (full context)
Chapter 11
Family and Community Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 13
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
...night, he cooks for his mother, plays video games, and sits in Alby’s bedroom with Slowy. One day, one of Cory’s friends from the store asks him if he has an... (full context)
Chapter 15
Sociopolitical Power vs. Personal Fortitude  Theme Icon
...the wake of Alby’s death, sitting on the edge of his brother’s bed playing with Slowy. As Greer considers how power slips away over time, she wonders whether Slowy the turtle... (full context)