Despite the title, there seems to be no rivalry between the two women, who are not talking. Rather, the question might be directed at those who would see the painting in the future and might envy Gauguin and his models their tropical
dolce far niente.
The seated woman is borrowed from a kneeling figure on the frieze at the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, a photograph of which Gauguin had in his possession. Eugene Delacroix, seeing the white-garbed Arabs in Morocco, had already felt that classical Greece could be remet in more primitive peoples. The headband of flowers worn by the profile figure is reminiscent of an ancient laurel wreath.
The reclining woman may have been added later. The two bodies, bright but shadowed, stand out against the rosy lilac sand. All trace of realism has been abandoned in favor of color harmonies; the line of the strand caresses the women's bodies; and the reflections in the water are a vibrant, abstract pattern, intoxicating in its glowing brightness.