Chapters 10 & 11

Summary: Chapter 10: Venom

Stone and Finch realize that V has gone undetected for four years while killing almost everyone who worked at Larkhill. When they see that Dr. Surridge also worked there, they inform Almond and set out for Dr. Surridge’s home to save her. Meanwhile, Dr. Surridge expresses regret to V for her crimes at the camp and asks him to remove his mask so she can once again see his face, which she says is beautiful. V kills Surridge with a lethal injection and then fatally stabs Almond, who arrives moments after. At the scene, Finch finds Dr. Surridge’s diary from Larkhill.

Summary: Chapter 11: The Vortex

Finch reports to Leader Susan about the contents of Dr. Surridge’s diary, which starts on April 30, 1993, and details her role at Larkhill. There, accompanied by Prothero and Bishop Lilliman, she conducted hormone research on prisoners that she describes as subhuman. Prisoners, she says, routinely developed deformities such as extra nipples, atrophied genitalia, and vestigial fingers before dying painful deaths. The prisoner in room V seemed physically unaffected by the hormone research, but his treatment led to a psychotic break and increased intellect. Those in charge of Larkshill, however, believed the prisoner to be harmless, so they allowed him to garden, where he doubled the camp’s food production and grew a patch of Violet Carson roses. In his cell, the prisoner also created an elaborate pattern with ammonia-based fertilizer and grease solvent, which later let loose a blast of napalm and mustard gas, killing guards as he escaped. 

Finch postulates that after killing Dr. Surridge, V left the diary in her room so investigators would know his story, but not all of it, given that some pages were ripped out, making it impossible for them to know if he’s “Jewish, or homosexual, or black, or white.”

Analysis: Chapters 10 & 11

V, whose personhood is largely mysterious and ambiguous, is finally given an identity as a gardener. V leaves roses at the scenes of his crimes, but the meaning of his signature “calling card” has been obscured before now. After the murder of the Bishop, the rose is revealed to be a species once thought extinct. The text draws a parallel between the rose and the idea of individualism, thought to be wiped out by the rise of fascism. In a flashback, V's role as a gardener in the concentration camp he was imprisoned in was what gave him favored status. He grew food and flowers that both fed and nourished those in charge of the camp. The chemicals by which he produced such bounty were also what allowed him to blow up the camp and escape. Like the flowers, V’s antifascist work provides glimpses of what is to come: the budding beauty of liberation for some and destruction for others.