Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.


Evelyn acts both on- and off-screen throughout the novel. As her career, acting is the vehicle that allows Evelyn to gain power and fame. Evelyn’s on-screen roles often parallel her life, blurring the line between fiction and reality. For example, she plays an adulterer in both Anna Karenina and Carolina Sunset, and in real life, she is unfaithful to Don, Celia, Max, and every partner she loves. Monique highlights the way Evelyn’s teasing character in Three A.M. mirrors Evelyn’s real tendency to give just enough to keep people wanting more. And when Evelyn decides to focus more on her family than on romance, she plays the role of the single mother in All for Us, intent on supporting her children.  

Evelyn also performs off-screen, often playing different roles to get what she wants from various men, such as when she acts as Ernie’s devoted wife in order to get to Hollywood or feigns pleasure with Ari to get her first role. Evelyn also performs much of her life for the press. She fabricates her backstory to hide her Cuban identity, play-acts news of a miscarriage for her gossipy maid, and marries Rex to boost ticket sales. She plays the role of herself for the public in order to get ahead, to protect herself and Celia, and to hide her true self from scrutiny.  

Bad Men 

Throughout the novel, Evelyn reacts to, navigates around, and copes with the harmful behavior of bad men. In a sense, selfish, arrogant, dominating, and abusive men define the trajectory of the first decades of her life. Her father not only abuses her physically, but she has reason to believe he may sexually assault her if she stays at home. He is the first of many men who threaten Evelyn sexually. Ari has a fetish for young girls and takes advantage of Evelyn when she is more than three decades younger than he. Don, the first man she loves, physically abuses her, and Evelyn spends years of her life covering up his abuse. She feels confused about how to leave him and is torn between love and hate. Mick and Max both objectify her, and they fall for the idea of her rather than who she truly is. At different points in her life, Evelyn is abused, patronized, and disrespected, criticized for being both too promiscuous and too cold, and trapped and pigeonholed by the desires and expectations of bad men.

Little Women 

The film version of Little Women gives insight into Evelyn and Celia’s characters throughout the book. Evelyn plays Jo, a headstrong character who is more interested in writing and professional ambition than she is in getting married. Evelyn spends much of her life more interested in advancing her career than marrying for love. In contrast, Celia plays the role of Beth, Jo’s sweet, supportive sister whose only real desire is to be near her sisters. When Connor refers to Celia’s character in Little Women, she describes her as the kindly one who just wants everyone to be happy. Similarly, Celia often prioritizes Evelyn’s happiness over her own, while Evelyn, like Jo, often places her ambitions before love.