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Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 166

Edna Ferber was a novelist and playwright as well as the author of short stories. Most of her short stories were sketches that were published first in magazines and then reprinted in collections. “The Three of Them” appears in the collection Cheerful, by Request (1918). She is noted for her creation of powerful and memorable female characters. “The Three of Them” focuses on Martha Foote, a strong woman who exhibits courage as well as homely virtue. Martha is like the central figure in Ferber’s popular and successful stories about a traveling salesperson named Emma McChesney. Emma is a middle-aged divorcée who supports her son by selling Featherloom petticoats on the road. So Big (1924), the novel for which Ferber received the Pulitzer Prize in 1925, focuses on Selina DeJong, another woman with a strong character, who is widowed early and later survives even the disappointment of her only son’s failure. Martha, the protagonist of “The Three of Them,” belongs among Ferber’s gallery of strong heroines.