Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Mouths Symbol Analysis

Mouths Symbol Icon

In Alias Grace, mouths are associated with violence, and particularly with the way male-dominated society systematically disempowers women. For example, when Grace’s father refers to his children as mouths to feed, young Grace imagines that her pregnant mother’s belly is filled with a mouth that is “eating away” at her, suggesting that Grace sees childbearing as destroying women. Grace also has a recurring dream about Nancy Montgomery where the only visible part of Nancy’s bloody body is her mouth—and of course, Nancy’s murder was plotted in part due to James McDermott’s misogyny. The association between mouths and violence against women is not just in Grace’s head; Dr. Simon Jordan physically uses his mouth to dominate women, as when he covers Rachel Humphrey’s mouth with his “to silence her.” He also has a vivid fantasy about Grace in which he presses his mouth against her and “applies [Murderess] to her throat like a brand.” Similarly, James McDermott covers Grace’s mouth when he attempts to rape her, and the guards who consistently harass Grace on her way to the Governor’s house make comments like, “I hate a screeching slut, women should be born without mouths on them.” Thus, Alias Grace sees mouths—and women’s mouths, in particular—as an invitation to violence, since silencing women is a way to maintain power over them.

Mouths Quotes in Alias Grace

The Alias Grace quotes below all refer to the symbol of Mouths. 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 13 Quotes

When I was quite young, six or seven, I put my hand on my mother’s belly, which was all round and tight, and I said What is in there, another mouth to feed, and my mother smiled sadly and said Yes I fear so, and I had a picture of an enormous mouth, on a head like the flying angel heads on the gravestones, but with teeth and all, eating away at my mother from the inside, and I began to cry because I thought it would kill her.

Related Characters: Grace Marks (speaker), Grace’s Mother
Related Symbols: Mouths
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Alias Grace quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 27 Quotes

But is it red where it most counts, says the other, a fire in a treetop is no use at all, it must be in a fireplace to cast enough heat, in a little cookstove, you know why God made women with skirts, it’s so they can be pulled up over their heads and tied at the top, that way you don’t get so much noise out of them, I hate a screeching slut, women should be born without mouths on them, the only thing of use in them is below the waist.

Related Characters: Grace Marks (speaker), The Guards
Related Symbols: Clothing, Mouths
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire Alias Grace LitChart as a printable PDF.
Alias grace.pdf.medium

Mouths Symbol Timeline in Alias Grace

The timeline below shows where the symbol Mouths appears in Alias Grace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
...blood streaming from her head and a kerchief tied around her neck. Nancy smiles—“only the mouth,” Grace says—and then she explodes into red flower petals made of cloth, and Grace appears... (full context)
Chapter 13
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...also had three stillborn children and one miscarriage.) Grace’s father refers to his children as mouths to feed, and Grace comes to see pregnancy as “an unhappy condition followed by a... (full context)
Chapter 31
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
...who has wrapped his arms around her, and as he kisses her with “his lipless mouth” she feels “horror” but also “a strange longing.” Suddenly the sun rises, and Grace sees... (full context)
Chapter 38
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...as McDermott slams her to the ground and climbs on top of her, covering her mouth as she begins to scream. Grace goes quiet and as soon as McDermott removes his... (full context)
Chapter 47
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Justice and Religion Theme Icon
...formed; tepid, bland, and tasteless. A flat landscape.” He pictures himself embracing Grace, pressing his mouth to her, stamping the word Murderess on “her throat like a brand.” (full context)
Chapter 49
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...kill the Major and “bury him in the garden.” Simon is bewildered and “puts his mouth on hers, to silence her.” Rachel interprets this as consent to her plan and kisses... (full context)
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...the door.” He falls asleep and dreams of Grace; when he awakens he presses his mouth against the train window. (full context)