A fellow passenger, Mrs. Phelan, showed Grace support and sympathy through this time. She expressed concern that Grace’s mother’s soul might be trapped in the ship because they could not open a window through which it could escape. Later in the journey, a wicker basket that Grace’s mother had tied to a bedpost fell over, causing valuable possessions to break. Grace notes that the basket had stayed in place through a storm, and she hypothesizes that her mother’s ghost must have dashed the basket to the ground in anger at being confined in the ship’s hold.
When the family arrived in Toronto, Grace’s father secured rooms in a house owned by a widow named Mrs. Burt. At first, Mrs. Burt offered the family generous support, and she comforted Grace’s father, who had just lost his wife. However, as her father returned to excessive drinking and ran out of funds, Mrs. Burt retracted her sympathies.
Grace despised her father for his irresponsibility, and she fantasized about killing him. It didn’t take long before he told Grace to go find work and earn her keep. Mrs. Burt helped Grace secure a job as a live-in servant for a Mrs. Alderman Parkinson, and Grace left her family behind.
Analysis: Part V
After several sessions together, both Dr. Jordan and Grace begin to show signs of attraction to each other. At the end of Part IV, Dr. Jordan remarked on Grace’s alluring scent. Dr. Jordan’s description of Grace’s scent clearly suggested sexual attraction. He related how distracted he felt by the many associations to which her scent gave rise, and he also spoke of how that scent had fundamental undertones of “dampness, ripeness, fullness.” Now, at the beginning of Part V, Grace remarks on Dr. Jordan’s smell. However, Dr. Jordan’s scent does not arouse specifically sexual feelings in her. Instead, his scent, which she identifies as a mix of shaving soap and leather, has a “reassuring” quality that is more paternal than sexual and makes him seem more trustworthy. However, Grace also notes that she “always looks forward” to Dr. Jordan’s scent. Thus, even if she primarily associates the smell with a sense of safety, there remains a subtle suggestion of attraction.
Even though Grace feels more comfortable with Dr. Jordan, she continues to withhold information from him, as when she chooses not to tell him which kind of quilt she would make for herself. As she’s done before, Grace shies away from divulging her true self to Dr. Jordan. This time, however, she explains to the reader that she holds back information based on a belief that speaking your desires out loud brings bad luck and eventual punishment. Although this appears to be a general superstition, Grace mentions a specific example to support her position: “This is what happened to Mary Whitney.” As the reader will learn in Part VI, Mary expressed her love for the man who got her pregnant, and his rejection led to her death. Grace therefore cites Mary’s example as a reason why women should not trust men with their real desires, not even apparently trustworthy men like Dr. Jordan.
Another instance of superstition that holds greater significance than it may appear at first arises when Grace’s mother dies on the journey from Ireland to Canada. Following her death, a fellow passenger named Mrs. Phelan laments the lack of windows in the ship’s hold. Mrs. Phelan, a Protestant, believes that the soul leaves the body at the time of death and that the soul will be trapped if there is no window to escape through. Grace doesn’t initially pay much attention to Mrs. Phelan’s lament. However, it comes back to mind when the wicker basket Grace’s mother had secured to the bedpost mysteriously becomes detached, causing the family’s only remaining valuables to break. Grace explains to Dr. Jordan that her mother’s soul must have felt angry at being trapped in the ship’s hold and hence dashed the basket to the ground to communicate her anger. Although Grace’s explanation about the trapped soul may seem like mere superstition, this particular superstition foreshadows important events later in the novel, including Mary’s death (Part VI) and the events that unfold during Grace’s hypnosis (Part XIII).