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One main idea of the book is men's assumed superiority over women. This passage describes a woman who Mattie has taken in and given a place to stay. The observation that the woman is folding her husband's trousers as if it was "the only task ahead of her in life and everything depended on getting it right" emphasizes Kingsolver's idea that women become so belittled and so degraded by men that take advantage of them, to a point where they have no time for themselves and no futures of individual successes. However, Kingsolver later proves, through both Taylor and Lou Ann's successes as independent women, that this situation of servitude and inferiority can be reversible with strength and bravery.