Dr. Jordan’s meditation on the word “murderess” echoes the thought Grace had earlier in the novel regarding how seductive that word can be. In Part III, Grace thought about how her public status as a “celebrated murderess.” Whereas she finds the word “murderer” brutal, “murderess” has an allure that she compares to the scent of dead flowers. At the end of Part XII, the word comes to Dr. Jordan’s mind as he engages in a sexual fantasy about Grace. Dr. Jordan echoes Grace’s association of the word with flowers. He compares it to the scent of hothouse gardenias, overwhelming but also hard to pinpoint, derived from flowers that are not natural but created by man. Dr. Jordan’s associations confirm Grace’s earlier belief about the power this single word has to affect other peoples’ imaginations. Simply thinking about the word sparks in Dr. Jordan a disturbing fantasy, the taboo nature of which makes it all the more tantalizing. Despite being a scientist who has supposedly committed himself to the pursuit of objective knowledge, thinking of Grace as a murderess clouds his perception of her and draws him in.