One of the epigraphs that opens this section of the book is a quotation from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1844 short story “Rapaccini’s Daughter.” The epigraph contains the line, “Blessed are all simple emotions, be they dark or bright! It is the lurid intermixture of the two that produces the illuminating blaze of the infernal regions.”
This epigraph speaks to the novel’s argument that women should not be defined according to a binary of good and evil, or purity and impurity. In light of Hawthorne’s statement, it would seem that all characters in Alias Grace, regardless of their gender, have something of the “infernal” in them, because people naturally experience a mixture of both dark and bright emotions. The fact that this mixture is also “illuminating” might help to explain why Grace, in particular, is such a fascinating character.
This chapter consists of a letter from Mrs. Jordan to Simon. She writes that she is anxious to see her son again, and that she is worried about the “calamitous War looming ever nearer in the distance.”
Mrs. Jordan’s letter provides a reminder of the historical context of the novel; though Canada was at peace, the United States was on the verge of a Civil War.