Few would argue that "Turtle" is an overtly feminist poem, but some readers detect a subtle critique of traditional female roles in society. There's no getting around the fact that Kay Ryan chose to make the turtle a "she." But maybe you think it's a stretch to conclude that the poem develops themes about women and femininity. Fair enough. Still, just so you don't miss all the fun, try to keep an open mind as you follow the discussion below.
Come one, come all! Though "Turtle" has a female protagonist, the poem's central themes of freedom and confinement are equally relevant to men and women. The poem suggests that, in a competitive society, mental toughness as well as physical strength are necessary requirements for success.
Nope! Ladies only. On one level, "Turtle" can be read as an allegory of women's struggles to escape the inequities of traditional gender roles. Emotionally loaded words hint at the vulnerability of women in male-dominated society and the enormous effort required to overcome gender-based barriers.