This chapter consists of a letter from Simon to his friend Edward Murchie, with whom he was an undergraduate at Harvard. Simon congratulates Edward on his recent engagement, saying he envies him “for having a heart to bestow.” Simon describes his visits with Grace, and how he has been “trying in vain to open her up like an oyster.” He says that he is on the verge of going mad himself “out of sheer boredom.” The only person whom he says he is interested in getting to know is Dr. DuPont, though he describes him as “a devotee of the Scottish crackpot Braid, and a queer duck himself.”
Simon’s lament that he possesses “a heart-shaped stone” reads as an excuse for his demeaning treatment of women, and his insistence on seeing them as sexual objects rather than as equals. Simon once again employs imagery that reduces Grace to a foodstuff; this imagery also once more involves Simon violently “opening” Grace—language that has sexually-charged overtones. Simon’s feeling of boredom verging on “madness” will also be significant later as he gradually loses his grip on reality.