Book Two: This Vicious Cabaret

Prelude & Chapters 1–7

Summary: Prologue

In Book Two’s prelude, V sings a song called “This Vicious Cabaret,” which speaks of an honest-souled policeman (Finch), Leader Susan, and Evey, who’s now ready to follow V into The Land of Do-As-You-Please, or anarchy. 

Summary: Chapter 1: The Vanishing

It’s January 5, 1998. When Evey asks V why he hasn’t pursued her sexually, wondering if there’s someone else, if he doesn’t like women, or if he might be her father, V blindfolds her and leads her out of the Shadow Gallery and onto the street. He tells Evey that he is not her father and that her father is dead. He vanishes and leaves her on the street. 

Summary: Chapter 2: The Veil

At Derek Almond’s funeral, Rosemary thinks about her deceased husband. She understands that he was an evil man, but now feels alone without him. With no state support, income, or job, Rosemary realizes she has nothing. Meanwhile, V slips into Norsefire-controlled film studios and kills a crew while they review a racist action show that portrays Black men as would-be rapists of white women.

Summary: Chapter 3: Video

As comedies with sexual humor and news propaganda play in the background, V takes over the studio’s airwaves to communicate with London’s citizens.

Summary: Chapter 4: A Vocational Viewpoint

V berates London’s citizens for their behavior. Despite the great successes of the human race, including the discovery of fire, the wheel, and agriculture, V says that they are guilty of so many sins. With scenes of Hitler and Mussolini playing, he condemns dictators but also those citizens who put them in power, tolerated their totalitarianism, and turned a blind eye to their abuses. After V warns London’s citizens to change their ways, armed forces storm into the film studio and kill him. However, they later learn that V has fooled them, and that the corpse disguised in V’s attire is actually that of Roger Dascombe. 

Summary: Chapter 5: The Vacation

Finch punches Almond’s replacement, Peter Creedy, after Creedy reveals that Finch had an affair with Dr. Surridge. Leader Susan sends Finch on vacation to cool off. Evey now lives with Gordon, a gangster and smuggler. 

Summary: Chapter 6: Variety

After a night of heavy drinking, Evey vomits and wonders if London would have been better off if it had been destroyed in the war.

Summary: Chapter 7: Visitors

Evey and Gordon start a sexual relationship. Later, crime boss Alistair Harper and a fellow gangster kill Gordon at his home. Evey sees his body and flashes back to her mother’s death, her father’s imprisonment, and V’s abandonment. Suddenly, Evey realizes she’s all alone.

Analysis: Prelude & Chapters 1–7

One of the important themes of the second book is the necessity of self-reliance, especially for the few female characters in the book. As V abandons Evey at the end of Book Two’s first chapter and Rosemary Almond monologues at the beginning of the second, a new, terrifying truth comes to the fore: these women, who have been cared for in their previous relationships, must now figure out how to work things out for themselves. Despite problematic power differentials in the relationships, they were protected from the broader dangers of the fascist society in which they lived. With those relationships ruptured, the growth necessary to make a life for themselves is forced upon them, with all the threat and promise of that freedom attached. Evey attaches herself to a criminal, Gordon, until he is later killed. Rosemary becomes a burlesque dancer. In the end, both plan to undertake violence as a symbol of their enforced independence, but only Rosemary succeeds in carrying out her plan.

The idea of self-reliance is also foisted upon the inhabitants of Britain as V takes over the state television station. As he criticizes the government, he also castigates everyone who lives in Britain, implicating them in their own suffering. Here the book's adherence to the philosophy of anarchy is laid out. By placing the blame for allowing fascism to thrive on those who have done nothing to stop it, V does not let anyone off the hook. If people are as unhappy as they claim, they should be stopping the reign of evil men doing evil things. V, who has proven he can get to anyone, anywhere, at any time, gives the people of Britain two years to get their house in order, or, he says, "You're fired." What this "firing" might mean is left to the imagination, but it seems likely that V’s threat is actually a promise to provide support for a revolution for that long. If, at the end of that time, there is no significant progress, the support will end. V, who is sparking a revolution entirely on his own, wants the public to take control of their lives, work toward self-determination, and reimagine the world that could exist in the absence of the rule of corrupt men. As has been shown elsewhere, the concepts of liberation and self-determination are both thrilling and terrifying. V expects the British citizens to face those fears and imagine a better world for themselves.