At the beginning of the novel, Ainsley professes her plan to get pregnant and raise a child without a father, something she wants to do because she believes in the supreme importance of a woman's role in a child's life. She emphasizes that a male influence is unnecessary; the whole plan is an extension of Ainsley's liberal, feminist-oriented ideologies that she expresses with vigor and that contrast with Marian's own conservative relationship towards gender roles. However, at the end of the novel, it is Ainsley—not Marian—who ends up married, a total reversal of the values Ainsley held earlier (disdaining marriage) and ironic, given that Marian was the one who was engaged and set up to get married.
"My manly arms" (Verbal Irony)
When Duncan and Marian attempt to have sex, Duncan jokes that he's "supposed" to "crush Marian in his manly arms," an ironic statement that overstates his own physical form—which we know to be extremely thin, as Marian continuously describes it—and overstates the act of sex itself, making fun of stereotypical male strength and gendered expectations.
Peter not eating the cake (Situational Irony)
Marian expects Peter to eat the cake, because like he "destroy[s]" and "assimilate[s]" her, she thinks he will destroy and assimilate the cake that she has baked for him as a substitute for her own self and body. However, Peter doesn't do what she expects, and instead becomes embarrassed and leaves her. Although Peter has previously pushed Marian into standard, stereotypical womanhood, once given the opportunity to make this kind of silent violence more explicit, he runs away.
The cake's symbolism (Dramatic Irony)
After Marian bakes Peter the cake and presents it to him, he doesn't eat it, not doing what Marian expected he would do. After he leaves, she states that her "symbol has failed," a metatextual remark that hints towards the use of "symbols" as useless. Marian wants to use a symbol, just as an author uses a symbol—a reality that exposes the ironic nature of literary technique.
The Edible Woman Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Edible Woman is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The title, is metaphorical of course. Marian considered herself an edible woman, whom Peter and the society devoured upon. She broke this image of herself by eating the cake-woman she had made. She left all the negativity behind, and released...
In Chapter Ten, Marian tells Ainsley about her engagement, but Ainsley has no interest, as she is busy looking at the calendar and plotting which days will be the best for her to get pregnant by Len. Ainsley explains her strategy to Marian and...