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
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.