Female Persuasion (Wolitzer) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. The Female Persuasion is about the relationship between a young woman and her mentor. What does Greer learn from Faith, and vice versa? In what ways do Greer and Faith surprise or disappoint each other? Have you ever had someone come into your life and change it forever?

2. Greer and Cory are high school sweethearts, but their romance is much deeper than their age might suggest. How do the social settings of their hometown and their families turn them into the couple that they are? Discuss the class differences between Greer’s family and Cory’s. How do family origins affect the characters’ ambitions?

3. Cory is entirely consumed by grief after a family tragedy. Talk about the ways in which grief can change a person’s goals. How does it alter Cory’s life path? What do you think about Greer’s reaction to Cory’s grief-induced changes? Is she right to give him space? Is he right to push her away? Could this moment in their relationship have gone any other way?

4. Compare Zee’s childhood with Greer’s. Have their backgrounds influenced the people they have grown up to be, or the decisions they make, or the ambitions they follow?

5. What do you think about Greer’s treatment of Zee and its effect on their friendship and their lives? Do you recognize Greer’s emotional response to the idea of sharing her job with Zee? Were you surprised by Zee’s reaction when she found out what really happened?

6. How has feminism changed between Faith’s youth and Greer’s youth? What do their generational differences show about the nature of progress? Discuss the portrayal of women’s advocacy as it evolves over the course of the book.

7. Faith Frank and Emmett Shrader have a long and complicated history. Do you empathize with Emmett’s character at any point? Do you judge Faith for accepting his funding?

8. At the end of the novel, Greer is forced to make a difficult decision about the Ecuador project. Do you think she makes the right choice? Would Faith have made the same choice if their roles were reversed?

9. Think about the way Faith and Greer’s relationship comes to an end. Do you think it’s for the best? Was it inevitable? By the end of the book, did you still love Faith Frank the way Greer did, despite her flaws, or had your opinion changed? Do you think it’s possible for Greer to move past her love for Faith, or will she always be haunted by it?

10. Wolitzer suggests that there are certain key people, events, and relationships that change the course of our lives. Obviously, Faith does this for Greer. Which other relationships might illustrate this kind of power? Think about Greer’s influence on Cory, and his on her; think about Zee’s life; think about Faith and Emmett. You might even think about Alby’s influence, long-term, on all of them.
(Questions issued by the publishers.)
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