51 pages 1 hour read

Miriam Toews

Women Talking

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Symbols & Motifs


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

Dreams and dreaming are a recurring motif in Women Talking. While the first dreams mentioned are not dreams at all but horrific memories of being violently assaulted as they slept, the women recount dreams regularly to explain their feelings and experiences: Ona dreams of finding a candy and, instead of being able to eat it, being accosted by a 200-pound pig that pins her against a wall as she screams in protest. After the women have left, August dreams of the community building and rebuilding houses under Ona’s direction, suggesting the women’s resiliency in Keeping Faith in a Religion Steeped in Hypocrisy.

Some of the characters’ dreams are discounted as silly or untrue; however, in likening heaven to a dream, Ona suggests that dreams may be real in a deep, spiritual sense. Dreams also characterize the insular world of the colony; August wonders if facts are like dreams to all Molotschnans, and Ona says dreams are perhaps the most logical experience they have. Ona, when accused of being a dreamer, says that all the women have dreams and are therefore dreamers, and August describes a dream of being safe and warm in Los Angeles when he hears the song “California Dreaming.