Study Guide

She's Come Undone Women and Femininity

By Wally Lamb

Women and Femininity

A book set in the 1950s and 60s pretty much has to be concerned with women's rights because they were in the air then. When Dolores is growing up in She's Come Undone, a woman's place (like her mother's) is in the kitchen—but Ma gets tired of simply having to make her man a sandwich and, after the divorce, tries to make a life for herself and for her daughter. Dolores Price is no feminist, but she, too, is a sister who has to learn how to do it for herself. Plus, so much of her experience is influenced by her body, which is a classic problem for women.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How does Dolores's story mimic that of her mother's? How about her grandmother's?
  2. How is Dolores's marriage with Dante similar to that of her parents' marriage? Or his parents' marriage? How are they different?
  3. Consider Naomi, the progressive feminist at the college. How do people react to her? What do she and Dolores talk about during their brief friendship? Would Dolores be friends with her if she had stayed at the school?

Chew on This

Dolores is always conflicted between her need for male attention (because her father was so distant) and her desire to live independently of it.

History repeats itself, and despite hating her mother so much, Dolores eventually becomes her: a housewife (albeit one with a part-time job).