Alias Grace Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Alias Grace Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Simon has made it through his talk for the Governor’s wife’s Tuesday circle, and feels that “his indisposition appears to have passed.” His speech focused on the evolving medical consensus on the origin of mental illness, and he is now discussing the talk over tea with Dr. DuPont. DuPont hints that he would like to try hypnotizing Grace, which annoys Simon—“Grace is his territory; he must repel poachers,” he thinks. DuPont insists that Mrs. Quennell and the committee working to secure Grace’s pardon are advocating for a hypnosis session, which makes Simon worry that the committee is becoming impatient with him.
For the first time, Simon explicitly thinks of Grace as less than human. His desire to “repel poachers” goes beyond his prior similes likening Grace to foodstuffs; here, he is literally framing Grace as his property. Though he might claim he is only thinking ironically, it seems clear at this point that Simon is a misogynist. This passage is also important because it indicates the pressure Simon is facing to get “results” from his work with Grace; this pressure from the committee seems likely to itself limit Simon’s ability to conceive of (in)sanity in nuanced terms.
Themes
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
For the first and only time in the novel, the point of view switches in the middle of a chapter, with the perspective shifting to Grace. Because Dr. Jordan is speaking at the Tuesday circle, Grace has not seen him today. The Governor’s wife has asked Grace to help prepare for the circle’s meeting, which means Grace takes her meal in the kitchen “just like a real servant,” which pleases her. Dora has been helping with the laundry at the Governor’s house and she informs Grace that “the young doctor” who works at her old place of employment has hired her back. Dora says this doctor is strange; he has dug up half of the yard trying to start a garden, and Dora says that his profession gives him “the air of a poisoner.” Grace is shocked to find that Dora is talking about Dr. Jordan, and she inquires about the lady of the house. Dora replies that “if ever she saw a determination to get a man’s trousers off him, it was there in the eyes of Mrs. Humphrey.” Grace is put off by Dora’s taste for gossip, so she says no more.
For the first time in the novel, the reader is presented with an “outside” perspective of Dr. Jordan, one that does not come from Grace or from Dr. Jordan’s own chapters. Dora’s description of Dr. Jordan makes him seem neurotic and untrustworthy; but at the same time, her account corroborates Dr. Jordan’s feeling that Mrs. Humphrey would like to seduce him. Though Grace resolutely ignores Dora’s description, the reader is left to wonder which Dr. Jordan is the “real” one. This is powerful, because the novel began with the question of which Grace was real. This inversion shows that sanity is not an objective quality, and that society’s conception of sanity is strongly gendered.
Themes
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
When Grace serves the refreshments following Dr. Jordan’s talk, she is so shocked to see Jeremiah the peddler in the room that she nearly drops the plate she is carrying. The Governor’s wife introduces Jeremiah to Grace as Dr. Jerome DuPont. DuPont asks if Grace will consent to being hypnotized; he squeezes Grace’s chin and moves his eyes up and down, “to signal to [her] that [she] should say yes.” Grace agrees. Though she is nervous about being put into a trance, she is pleased by the idea that she and Jeremiah have “made a pact” under the noses of the others, and she thinks that Dr. Jordan “look[s] a poor fish beside Jeremiah, like a man at a fair who’s had his pocket picked, but does not yet know it.”
In terms of the plot, the revelation that Dr. DuPont is actually Jeremiah the peddler is a high point of the novel. On a more nuanced level, this moment is important because Grace’s extreme satisfaction at having outwitted Dr. Jordan, in collaboration with Jeremiah, raises the possibility that she and Jeremiah are somehow in cahoots. This has huge implications for the later scene in the novel in which Grace is hypnotized.
Themes
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon