51 pages 1 hour read

Miriam Toews

Women Talking

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

Content Warning: This section of the guide includes discussions and depictions of domestic and sexual violence.

“‘Do Nothing’ was in reality not an option, but […] allowing women to vote for ‘Do Nothing’ would at least be empowering.”

(Part 1, Page 7)

As the women determine their options, Salome suggests that they list the “do nothing” option to give the women who do not want to leave or fight a voice. This alludes to the title of the novel and illustrates that the women are creating a democratic society. They find it important to give every woman a voice—a condition not possible under the colony’s patriarchal rule—establishing The Healing Power of Community and Communication.

Quotation Mark Icon

“[D]oubt and uncertainty and questioning are inextricably bound together with faith. A rich existence, she said, a way of being in the world, wouldn’t you say?”

(Part 1, Page 12)

As August is trying to find his way after being released from jail, a kind librarian allays his guilt over his religious doubts and helps him find his way back to the colony and Ona. This foreshadows the discussions the women will have as they try to find their way to freedom from abuse—in particular, those that surround Keeping Faith in a Religion Steeped in Hypocrisy.

Quotation Mark Icon

“But is forgiveness that is coerced true forgiveness? asks Ona Friesen. And isn’t the lie of pretending to forgive with words but not with one’s heart a more grievous sin than to simply not forgive? Can’t there be a category of forgiveness that is up to God alone, a category that includes the perpetration of violence upon one’s children, an act so impossible for a parent to forgive that God, in His wisdom, would take exclusively upon Himself the responsibility for such forgiveness?”

(Part 2, Pages 26-27)

Ona poses a question about forgiveness and when it might be legitimate to not forgive. This is illustrates a major theme of the novel: how to hold on to faith when religion as practiced is corrupt and oppressive.