Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Mary is Grace’s dearest friend. The two meet when Grace begins work at Mrs. Alderman Parkinson’s, where Mary is also a servant. Mary, who is several years older than Grace, takes Grace under her wing and teaches her the life of a servant. Mary is mischievous, lively, and funny. A native-born Canadian, she has a coarse way of speaking and passionately believes in the equality of people, regardless of their class status. Grace is incredibly close to Mary; in fact, there are several hints throughout the novel that Grace might be a lesbian, and that she was in love with Mary. After Mary becomes pregnant by her employer’s son, Mr. George Parkinson, she undergoes an abortion and dies from complications of the procedure. At the climax of the novel, when Jeremiah (disguised as Dr. Jerome DuPont) hypnotizes Grace, Mary Whitney’s voice reveals that, upon her death, her spirit possessed Grace’s body. Mary claims that she has intermittently taken over Grace’s body and that she, not Grace, is responsible for murdering Nancy Montgomery. The novel never clarifies whether the reader is meant to believe that Grace has been possessed, or whether it is actually Grace herself who is pretending to have been taken over by Mary’s spirit.

Mary Whitney Quotes in Alias Grace

The Alias Grace quotes below are all either spoken by Mary Whitney or refer to Mary Whitney. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Alias Grace published in 1997.
Chapter 48 Quotes

“You killed her,” breathes Lydia. “I always thought so.” She sounds, if anything, admiring.

“The kerchief killed her. Hands held it,” says the voice. “She had to die. The wages of sin is death. And this time the gentleman died as well, for once. Share and share alike!”

Related Characters: Grace Marks (speaker), Mary Whitney (speaker), Miss Lydia (speaker), Dr. Simon Jordan, Mr. Thomas Kinnear, Nancy Montgomery
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 401
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 53 Quotes

But three of the triangles in my Tree will be different. One will be white, from the petticoat I still have that was Mary Whitney’s; one will be faded yellowish, from the prison nightdress I begged as a keepsake when I left there. And the third will be a pale cotton, a pink and white floral, cut from the dress of Nancy’s that she had on the first day I was at Mr. Kinnear’s, and that I wore on the ferry to Lewiston, when I was running away.

I will embroider around each one of them with red feather-stitching, to blend them in as a part of the pattern.

And so we will all be together.

Related Characters: Grace Marks (speaker), Mary Whitney, Mr. Thomas Kinnear, Nancy Montgomery
Related Symbols: Quilts
Page Number: 460
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mary Whitney Character Timeline in Alias Grace

The timeline below shows where the character Mary Whitney appears in Alias Grace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...drawings of Grace and McDermott; Grace’s portrait is captioned with her name and her alias, Mary Whitney. (full context)
Chapter 4
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
...in solitary confinement for several days, during which time she thinks often of someone named Mary Whitney. Finally, Grace hears a knock at the door and invites the person in. (full context)
Chapter 8
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
...best, then you don’t have to listen to them.” Sometimes Grace is able to channel Mary Whitney and say something biting to back to the guards. Grace is no longer allowed... (full context)
Chapter 12
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...want out loud brings bad luck” and possibly even punishment. “This is what happened to Mary Whitney,” she says. (full context)
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...journalists made up about her. Dr. Jordan asks about Grace’s alias, and Grace responds that Mary Whitney was a friend of hers. “Without her,” she says, “it would have been a... (full context)
Chapter 18
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
...“come to a happier part of [her] story,” where she will tell Dr. Jordan about Mary Whitney. Grace describes the Alderman Parkinson house, “one of the finest houses in Toronto,” where... (full context)
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Grace says that she “liked [Mary] at once.”  Mary takes Grace under her wing and teaches her about her duties as... (full context)
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Mary helps Grace bathe and wash her clothes. The two then go shopping in Toronto to... (full context)
Chapter 19
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...of work, her father comes to the Parkinson house and demands her wages. Each time, Mary defends Grace and sends her belligerent father away. Grace later tries to send Mrs. Burt... (full context)
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
Grace describes for Dr. Jordan how she and Mary did the washing. She recalls how, for fun, she and Mary used to try on... (full context)
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
Grace and Mary take two of the winter quilts inside to mend them. One, Grace remembers, was done... (full context)
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
...a summary of the autumn at the Parkinson house. She remembers watching migrating geese with Mary in September, and Mary explaining to her what menstruation is when Grace got her first... (full context)
Chapter 20
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
“Real winter” sets in and Grace begins to notice something is different about Mary; “her smell had changed, from nutmegs to salt fish,” she says. When Grace discovers Mary... (full context)
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
At a loss, Mary considers drowning herself, but instead arranges for an abortion. Before meeting with the “doctor,” she... (full context)
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
Agnes helps Grace prepare Mary’s body. Then Grace suddenly hears Mary’s voice whisper, Let me in. Grace panics, realizing that... (full context)
Chapter 22
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
...to see if he has been listening. Dr. Jordan replies that Grace left off with Mary’s death, and Grace resumes her story. (full context)
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
Because Mary has written a will, Grace is able to inherit her few possessions, many of which... (full context)
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
Grace leaves the Parkinson house soon after Mary’s death, bouncing around from job to job. While she is working at the house of... (full context)
Chapter 23
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...an old shawl of her mother’s and a blue flowered handkerchief left to her by Mary Whitney. During the journey, the man sitting next to Grace in the coach badgers her... (full context)
Chapter 30
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...a hankering after the servant-girls” and that he hopes Grace “will not end up like Mary Whitney.” Grace realizes that Jeremiah also knows that George Parkinson fathered Mary Whitney’s child; she... (full context)
Chapter 31
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...to wandering scoundrels,” but she also feels angry that Nancy might get off scot-free, when Mary Whitney died “for the same sin.” (full context)
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
...Mr. Kinnear reading The Lady of the Lake (a book Grace used to read with Mary Whitney) aloud to Nancy. Grace overhears the two flirting and when Mr. Kinnear asks Nancy... (full context)
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...have been walking around outside without knowing [she] was doing so,” as she did after Mary Whitney’s death. She goes outside to pump some water and finds that she forgot to... (full context)
Chapter 35
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
That night Grace had two dreams. In the first dream she was visited by Mary Whitney, who appeared at Mr. Kinnear’s bedside holding a firefly in a jar. The firefly... (full context)
Chapter 39
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
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...Charley Horse, whom they have taken with them in their escape. Grace is posing as Mary Whitney and McDermott as her brother, David. On the ferry, some young boys begin to... (full context)
Chapter 40
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...dreamt that she was walking along the driveway leading to Mr. Kinnear’s house, knowing that Mary Whitney was waiting there to welcome her. In the dream, the house felt like Grace’s... (full context)
Chapter 43
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...to do. Grace spends most of the three months in solitary confinement; she talks to Mary Whitney and on one occasion hears her laughing. She also sees her dream/hallucination of the... (full context)
Chapter 47
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...The next day, before taking the afternoon train back to Kingston, he tries to find Mary Whitney’s grave. He finds a headstone with her name on it, but thinks: “She could... (full context)
Chapter 48
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...was her handkerchief that strangled Nancy, Simon realizes the voice he is hearing belongs to Mary Whitney. Mary’s voice admits that she inhabited Grace’s “clothing” (i.e. her body) when Grace forgot... (full context)
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Mary begs Simon not to tell Grace that she is being possessed. When Simon asks why,... (full context)
Chapter 53
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...lie.” However, she says, “I suppose it isn’t the first lie I’ve told; but as Mary Whitney used to say, a little white lie such as the angels tell is a... (full context)
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...be three triangles in her tree that will be different. One will be made of Mary Whitney’s white petticoat, one of the yellow prison nightdress Grace took with her from the... (full context)