Patriarchy is a theme in the story. For many readers, the strict gender roles of the Clan are puzzling and offensive. Writing at the height of the feminist movement, Auel explores the problems associated with a male-dominated culture. Patriarchy leads to a host of social and political problems in any society and it is these problems that Auel wants to expose through her fiction. For example, the Clan women have no rights, no say in the power structure, and must be completely subservient to men in all ways.