Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Alias Grace Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A young man enters Grace’s cell and introduces himself as Dr. Simon Jordan. Grace immediately asks whether the other doctor is going to return, and Dr. Jordan assures her he won’t. Dr. Jordan asks if Grace is afraid of him, and she thinks, “No one comes to see me here unless they want something.”
This moment reveals how deeply skeptical Grace is about being treated as a pawn by yet another doctor. She is extremely perceptive and sensitive to the power politics involved in any given situation.
Themes
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Dr. Jordan tells Grace he is from Massachusetts and the two discuss his travels. Grace thinks that Dr. Jordan “must be a wanderer, like Jeremiah the peddler.” Dr. Jordan then offers Grace an apple, which she accepts; she tells him, however, “I am not a dog,” at which he laughs. Dr. Jordan asks why Grace is not eating the apple. Though she gives a casual reply, Grace admits, “I don’t want him to see my hunger. If you have a need and they find it out, they will use it against you.”
Here Grace is clearly asserting her personhood, but Dr. Jordan’s flippant laughter suggests that he does not understand why Grace feels she needs to do this. This suggests that Dr. Jordan has a lot to learn from Grace about her experiences as a woman. Grace’s statement about having her hunger used against her also speaks to the way that society closely monitors and manipulates female desire (although desire in this case is not explicitly sexual).
Themes
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Dr. Jordan asks Grace what the apple makes her think of. She knows that he wants her to guess the apple of the Tree of Knowledge. “Any child could guess it,” she says. “But I will not oblige.” Grace instead asks if Dr. Jordan is a preacher; he tells her he is a doctor of the mind. To herself, Grace characterizes Dr. Jordan as “a collector.”
Grace’s internal dialogue reveals the stark gap between what she says and what she is actually thinking. This is an important moment for the reader to consider as the novel progresses, as Grace is not always so open about the way she tries to outmaneuver those who would try to control her. Grace’s description of Dr. Jordan as a collector is also important, as his behavior toward women will confirm his tendency to objectify them.
Themes
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Dr. Jordan tells Grace he would like to help her, saying that if she will talk he will listen. Grace asks if she will be taken back to the Asylum, and Dr. Jordan promises she will not. Grace says nothing, but she raises the apple and presses it against her forehead.
This is a mysterious gesture, and the fact that Grace provides no explanation, even though she is narrating this chapter, suggests that there is a part of Grace’s mind to which the reader can never have access, making her an even more complex narrator. It is possible that there is some Biblical imagery here and that by pressing the apple to her forehead Grace is associating herself with Eve.
Themes
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Get the entire Alias Grace LitChart as a printable PDF.
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