The Women's Room Questions and Answers
by Marilyn French, Marilyn Edwards

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What is the significance of the roles the women play, including, but not limited to Bliss, Martha, Adele and Natalie?

We could say the roles of Bliss, Adele, and Natalie involve friendship. They, along with Martha and Samantha, have similar problems regarding their husbands and children. To be more specific, you could tell how Bliss's role spotlights racism, how Natalie's role underscores sexual frustration, and how Adele's role signifies the normalcy of cheating husbands. You could also discuss Val and her role as a radical feminist or Chris and her role as a means to address rape culture.

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Let's start with the roles of Bliss, Adele, and Natalie. Who are these women? They're the three primary women that Mira becomes friends with when she moves into the new neighborhood. When we look at the three women as a unit, we could say they're role is to serve as friends. All three are in a similar situation as our main character Mira. They all have husbands, children, and conflicted feelings about their husbands and children. Their roles allow for sympathy and someone to talk to.

We could also go into more specific roles. We could talk about how Adele’s role is tied to her body. Today, we might say Adele represents body diversity. How does French describe her? She's "generously built."

Bliss's role spotlights the tension between the North and the South and how people from the South can be quite prejudiced. Bliss's role also highlights the monetary aspects of marriage. What was her motivation in marrying Bill? What is due to love or was it due to his money?

Martha's role might be to bring up the fluid nature of sexuality. When Martha talks to Mira about the sex she has with David, what does Mira start to think? She wonders if she wants to have sex with David as a way to have sex with Martha?

Natalie's role could be defined as the sexually frustrated one. Her husband hasn't had sex with her in two years. Her role also helps convey the conflicting feelings mothers sometimes have for their kids. At one point, Natalie says she "hates" her children.

Later, we see Val take on the role of militant feminism. We also see Chris's role as a way to address rape culture.