Alias Grace

Alias Grace


Margaret Atwood

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Alias Grace: Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

This chapter is written in the form of a broadsheet poem, which tells the story of the Kinnear and Montgomery murders. The poem reads, “Now Grace, she loved good Thomas Kinnear, / McDermott he loved Grace, / And ’twas these loves as I do tell / That brought them to disgrace.” The poem claims that Grace was jealous of Nancy, Kinnear’s lover, so she persuaded James McDermott to kill Nancy in exchange for the promise that Grace would become his lover. The poem ends by stating that if Grace repents, “she will be as white as snow, / And into Heaven will pass, / And she will dwell in Paradise, / In Paradise at last.” The chapter also includes drawings of Grace and McDermott; Grace’s portrait is captioned with her name and her alias, Mary Whitney.
This chapter provides insight into popular opinion about Grace, while also highlighting the power of stories, regardless of their truth. After the reader has encountered this account of the Kinnear-Montgomery murders, it might be difficult to shake the belief that McDermott and Grace were somehow romantically involved. The broadsheet poem itself also raises important questions about the nature of women—while Grace is depicted as a jealous, conniving, sex-hungry fiend, she is also depicted as capable of redemption (which is also framed in the sexualized terms of becoming white, a color associated with virginity). Finally, the portraits included in this chapter act as a different kind of storytelling; the caption that provides Grace’s alias also interacts with the title of the novel, raising the question of which Grace is the “true” Grace and which is the double, who sports an alias.
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Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
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