When the novel begins, Joanna is not completely comfortable with her role as a homemaker in the suburb of Stepford. She identifies as a photographer and her hobby is tennis. Joanna has trouble connecting with the other women she meets, who always look perfect and seem too interested in things like vacuuming. She resents the time her husband, Walter, spends in a local men’s group, and fails to motivate the women to form their own group.
Joanna grows increasingly discontented with suburban life; one friend after another suffers a major personality change, and she has nothing to talk to them about. She wants to leave Stepford, but she is dependent on her husband, who not only refuses but mocks her. By the novel’s end, Joanna has been turned into another automaton, with her personality effectively erased. She too is fully contented to obsess about housework.