It's kind of hard to miss this theme in the story. From the moment Atalanta shows up, the controversy around a women joining the men-folk on the hunt is heated. Meleager overrides the grumbling of his uncles and the other dudes in the hunting party, but the controversy flares up again big time when Meleager awards Atalanta the boar's hide for drawing first blood. Meleager's uncles in particular just can't cope with the idea that a woman is better than them at doing dude-stuff like hunting. In the end, the fighting over the issue causes not only Meleager's death and his uncles as well, showing that at this point in history a women couldn't break out of her societal role without causing some serious waves.
Questions About Women and Femininity
In what ways does Atalanta stand out from the typical females of her day and age?
Do you think Meleager is only motivated to help Atalanta because of his attraction to her, or does he truly respect her skills? Explain your answer.
Would the men be able to tolerate Atalanta better if she were a crappy hunter? Why do you think so?
Do you think this story is trying to show the tragedy that happens when women don't stay in their place? Or is it showing the tragedy that happens when men can't see past the traditional roles of women in society? Explain your answer.