51 pages 1 hour read

Miriam Toews

Women Talking

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Character Analysis

August Epp

Content Warning: This section of the guide includes discussions and depictions of domestic and sexual violence, as well as suicidal ideation.

August Epp is the narrator and the protagonist of the novel. Although he simply takes minutes of the women’s meetings, his role is a filter through which the story unfolds and the women’s characters emerge. His role in the actual plot is somewhat small, but his influence is unavoidable. August’s worldly knowledge and education allow him to, reluctantly at times, advise the women or contribute to the discussion. Though at first he is only tolerated by many of the women, his presence becomes appreciated and valued.

When the novel opens, August is near suicide. He has recently returned to the colony and is deeply unhappy. His parents were excommunicated when he was 12, and the family moved to England, where he received a university education. In his fourth year of university, he suffered a “nervous breakdown,” after which he became involved in political activities, was expelled, and ended up in prison for stealing a police horse. His mother died while he was in prison; his father had abandoned the family years before. He returned to Molotschna for love of Ona, his childhood sweetheart.