Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Alias Grace Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While Grace is unpacking her things in her new room, Nancy arrives to greet her. Grace notes that Nancy wore a pair of gold earrings at the time and that she “wondered how she could afford them, on the salary of a housekeeper.” Nancy gives Grace a full tour of the house. Grace particularly enjoys meeting Charley Horse in the stables. She also sees McDermott there; Nancy comments that “he is more surly than ever” and that it will be “a smile or the open road for him, or more likely the bottom of a ditch.” Grace admits that she “hoped he had not overheard” Nancy laughing at him like this. Later on the tour, Nancy explains that Jamie Walsh is a neighborhood boy who runs errands for Mr. Kinnear. She also shows Grace the bedrooms in the houses, and Grace finds herself “wonder[ing] at [Nancy’s] chamber being on the same floor as Mr. Kinnear’s,” but reminds herself that Mr. Kinnear’s house is less grand than Mrs. Alderman Parkinson’s and that there is no third floor or attic for the servants’ lodgings.
All of Grace’s observations in this passage reflect her strong sense of the importance of social class. Grace is repulsed by the way Nancy flouts convention by dressing above her station and sleeping on the same floor as her master’s room. Furthermore, this passage is notable because it suggests that despite the fact that McDermott is rude to Grace from the moment he met her, she still feels a sense of loyalty to him because they are from the same social class, and they both act like it, unlike Nancy.
Themes
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Dr. Jordan, reading aloud from Grace’s confession, comments, “And then everything went on very quietly for a fortnight,” to which Grace assents. When Dr. Jordan asks what Grace’s daily life was like, Grace realizes with surprise that he is not joking. She thinks that men like Dr. Jordan “are like children, they do not have to think ahead, or worry about the consequences of what they do.” She excuses them, however, as this “is only how they are brought up.”
This moment starkly demonstrates the class-based differences between Grace’s life and Dr. Jordan’s. Grace inverts the power dynamic between herself and Dr. Jordan by likening him to a child, thus placing herself in a position of greater knowledge and experience. The fact that Grace is willing to excuse Dr. Jordan’s ignorance about the lives of servants—the very people who made his own privileged childhood possible—suggests that Grace views a person’s social class (“how they are brought up”) as an integral part of their identity.
Themes
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon