You love us on Instagram and Twitter, now check us out on TikTok! You love us on Instagram and Twitter, now check us out on TikTok!

Alias Grace

Margaret Atwood
  • Study Guide
Summary

Part VII

Summary Part VII

Summary: Part VII

As Dr. Jordan leaves the Governor’s house he considers the significance of Grace’s fainting spell, which appears to be the first example of a gap in her memory. He also wonders if there have been other gaps, covered up by “the very plenitude of her recollections” and hence invisible to him. He walks and considers the mystery of the mind.

Dr. Jordan goes to speak with Reverend Verringer about his progress with Grace. Reverend Verringer grows interested when Dr. Jordan describes Grace’s lapse of memory, but the doctor insists on not jumping to conclusions. The men discuss Susanna Moodie’s account of Grace’s earlier bout of hysteria as well as Moodie’s tendency to “embroider” her report with melodramatic language drawn from literature.

The next time they meet, Grace continues telling her story to Dr. Jordan, starting with Mary’s modest burial in a nearby Methodist cemetery. Grace describes how she sought out new employment following her friend’s death and worked in several other households over the ensuing months. While employed by a woman named Mrs. Watson, Grace met Nancy Montgomery, a friend of Mrs. Watson’s cook who had come to the house for a visit. Nancy told Grace that she worked as a housekeeper for a man named Mr. Thomas Kinnear in a country village called Richmond Hill and that she needed another servant to help her with her duties. Nancy reminded Grace of Mary, and she offered a substantial wage, so Grace accepted the job.

Grace journeyed to Richmond Hill by carriage. Mr. Kinnear met her at a tavern in town, then escorted her the rest of the way to his estate. As the carriage pulled up, Grace saw Nancy cutting peonies in the front garden. She also met Jamie Walsh, a boy who lived on the neighboring property, and James McDermott, an irritable-looking stable hand who was chopping wood. Grace reflects on how clear her image of that house remains and how strange it is to think that six months later everyone there except Jamie and herself would be dead.

Grace describes Mr. Kinnear’s house at length, emphasizing certain unusual aspects of the layout and interior design. She notes the oddness of Nancy having a bedroom on the same floor as Mr. Kinnear, and she recalls two unusual paintings hung in Mr. Kinnear’s bedroom that depicted naked women. Grace also comments on the unusual fineness of Nancy’s clothing and jewelry and McDermott’s persistent ill humor.

The day after her arrival, Grace rose early to begin her morning chores. She listened to McDermott step-dancing in his room above the stable, and they had a brief exchange when Grace gathered eggs from the chicken coop. McDermott made a joke and smiled, and Grace comments that “he was better looking when smiling.”