A. General information

Write down the following information

  1. Title of the book; The Stepford Wives
  2. Name of the author; Levin, Ira
  3. Date of publication; 1972
  4. Number of pages; 116
  5. A two-sentence summary (samenvatting van het boek in twee zinnen).

Joanna has moved to Stepford with her husband and kids. All the Stepford wives are just like the ‘50’s women ideal, and she’s afraid it has something to do with the men’s association and it’s affecting her.

B. Main body

Answer the following questions (using between 5-7 lines per questions, except for the summary (Q1)).

1. Write a short summary of the book (10 lines maximum);

Joanna is a woman who moved to Stepford from a city with her husband and two kids. She meets some of the Setpford women, but they don’t seem to have any interests besides their housework. Then Bobbie call’s, a woman who moved to stepford with her husband and kids one month before Joanna. The become friends, and try so set up a women’s association, since the only community come-together is the men’s association, which is forbidden for women. Bobbie and Joanna meet another woman, who isn’t the ‘50’s ideal hausfrau like all the other women and become friends with her. After her weekend alone with her husband, this woman seems to have changed into the same kind of hausfrau as all the other Stepford women. Then, Bobbie changes too and Joanna is afraid she’s next on the list and suspects the men’s association to have a big role in these sudden and weird changes. She finds out some facts about the men in the association and thinks they murder the real women and replace them by identical robots, so lifelike the kids don’t notice a thing. In the end, the perspective has changed to Ruthanne Hendry, who comes across Joanne in the supermarket (they’ve met before) and notices Joanne has changed in the very same way Bobbie and Charmaine changed, and then the story ends.

2. Explain the title of the book;

The story is about the strange way the wives of the Stepford men behave, and how women new in Stepford seem to adopt that behavior. It’s about the strange way’s of the wives in Stepford.

3. Write down and discuss at least two important themes in the book;

Secrets: Joanna is convinced there’s a big secret within the Man’s Association, because of all the women who behave strangely and the fact no women are allowed. She thinks the women are replaced by robots and that the Man’s Association is behind all this.

Feminism: Joanna is a women’s rights activist, and in Stepford, is seems like all the women think the exact opposite of what she thinks. These women seem to care solely for their housework.

4. Discuss two characters in the book and how they evolve (veranderen tijdens het verhaal);

Joanna and Bobbie: In the beginning Joanna is happy with her new house and a women’s rights activist. She meets a woman, Bobbie, who’s like her not very interested in housework. When she and Bobbie think something is changing the women in Stepford to housewives, Bobbie wants to move. Then Bobbie changes and Joanna doesn’t feel safe anymore. Walter sends her to a shrink, and nobody takes her serious. In the end Joanna has changed into a Hausfrau too.

5. Write down what (literary) lesson the author is trying to teach you (i.e. the reader) with his/her story?

I don’t think there’s a lesson in this book. The book’s purpose is mainly to entertain, and the genre is a Thriller, which don’t have lessons often except for: “don’t forget to close your bathroom window”, “always look behind you” and that sort of things.

C. Reading, Writing and Creativity

Pick ONE(!) of the following four assignments to write about (between 25-30 lines in WORD)

1. Describe the most important problem that the main character has to deal with. Is the problem solved in the story? If so, how? If not, why not? Describe how you would have solved the problem, if you had been the main character;

OR

2. Write a newspaper article that is inspired by the book. Think of a real-life event in the book and how this could be translated into a newspaper article;

OR

-> 3. Write a different ending to the book. Give a creative twist to it and adjust the ending to your own liking;

(from page 112) …, and that was all there was to it. Then she saw Bobbie raise her hand. This was definitely not an attempt to cut her finger. As Bobbie’s arm was mid-air, Joanna got her mind together and punched her in her stomach. Bobbie fell over, and she saw her chance to run off. But off course, the men were still in the hall. She took the knife from Bobbie and tried the back door. It was actually open, and she saw her chance to escape. If she could make it out of Stepford, if she could survive this madness, she could write…
Then she woke up. Walter stood next to the bed. Not their bed. Whose bed was this exactly? She crawled back in fear and took a defensive pose. Walter turned his head to her and smiled. Friendly. “So, you’ve finally woken up. How are you?” he said. She was confused. Had she dreamt all of it? Did they catch her? Was she locked up? She searched around the room to see if she could recognize anything. Anything at all. There were children’s toys laying around the room. Were those from Kim and Pete? She could not remember. “What is all this?” she asked. “What do you think? This is our house off course! You worked so hard all day I laid you in Kim’s bed, because we have to put ours together yet. What did you think this was, you silly?” Walter said. There could be no way she dreamt all this. Did they or did they not move to Stepford? The doorbell rang. Walter opened the door. There stood the Welcome Wagon Lady. Walter said hello and she greeted him. She said she was here to welcome the newcomers and to write a little about them in the local paper, so the locals could meet them if they had some of the same interests. The Welcome Wagon lady said: “You’re really going to like it here! It’s a nice town with nice people! You couldn’t have made a better choice!”

(from page 112) …, and that was all there was to it. Then she saw Bobbie raise her hand. This was definitely not an attempt to cut her finger. As Bobbie’s arm was mid-air, Joanna got her mind together and punched her in her stomach. Bobbie fell over, and she saw her chance to run off. But off course, the men were still in the hall. She took the knife from Bobbie and tried the back door. It was actually open, and she saw her chance to escape. If she could make it out of Stepford, if she could survive this madness, she could write…
Then she woke up. Walter stood next to the bed. Not their bed. Whose bed was this exactly? She crawled back in fear and took a defensive pose. Walter turned his head to her and smiled. Friendly. “So, you’ve finally woken up. How are you?” he said. She was confused. Had she dreamt all of it? Did they catch her? Was she locked up? She searched around the room to see if she could recognize anything. Anything at all. There were children’s toys laying around the room. Were those from Kim and Pete? She could not remember. “What is all this?” she asked. “What do you think? This is our house off course! You worked so hard all day I laid you in Kim’s bed, because we have to put ours together yet. What did you think this was, you silly?” Walter said. There could be no way she dreamt all this. Did they or did they not move to Stepford? The doorbell rang. Walter opened the door. There stood the Welcome Wagon Lady. Walter said hello and she greeted him. She said she was here to welcome the newcomers and to write a little about them in the local paper, so the locals could meet them if they had some of the same interests. The Welcome Wagon lady said: “You’re really going to like it here! It’s a nice town with nice people! You couldn’t have made a better choice!”

OR

4. Which event do you consider the most important one in the book and why? Give an explanation of the event itself and why you think it is so important. You need to do so with sustainable argumentation and references to the book

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