37 pages 1 hour read

Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2019

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Symbols & Motifs


Content Warning: This section of guide includes discussions of anti-gay prejudice, racism, and violence, including domestic abuse and rape.

Shirley hides her anti-gay bias from Amma, though she can’t hide it from Dominique. Morgan hides their true gender-nonconforming identity from their unaccepting mother until their adulthood. Winsome hides her affair with Shirley’s husband, allowing Shirley to believe in Lennox’s near faultlessness. Bummi never tells her daughter, Carole, about her affair with her employee Omofe. These surprising, secret details of the characters’ lives in Girl, Woman, Other imply that no life is ordinary. Furthermore, the failure of Hattie’s father, Joseph, to divulge his family dealings in the slave trade points to the continuing dark legacy of oppression and colonialism, prompting readers to think critically about how structural oppression manifests in family lives, institutions, and ways of thinking. 


Evaristo presents a prismatic, evolving understanding of feminism, the meaning of which changes from character to character. Shirley associates feminism with the radical thinking of Amma’s queer community and secretly harbors a distain for it that is only palpable to Dominique. Penelope at different points in her life advocates for gender equity, until she meets her partner Jeremy, who associates feminism with female aggression and betrayal due to a bad experience with his ex-wife.

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Related Titles

By Bernardine Evaristo