Somewhat paradoxically, windows in Alias Grace are associated with confinement. The windows in the penitentiary are placed high up in the walls so that prisoners cannot see out of them, and when Grace’s mother dies on the family’s passage to Canada, Mrs. Phelan introduces Grace to the idea that a window should be opened when a person dies so that their soul can escape the room. Grace is devastated by the fact that she could not open a window for her mother, who died in the hold of the ship, and she is even more disturbed by forgetting to open the window of her room at Mrs. Alderman Parkinson’s after Mary Whitney dies. At the hypnosis near the end of the novel, Mary Whitney’s spirit claims to have possessed Grace’s body because there was no open window through which she could escape. Grace is haunted by the feeling that she must “open the window,” and she has several dreams about windows over the course of the novel, which reflects the constricted nature of Grace’s life and choices.
Windows Quotes in Alias Grace
In fact I have no idea of what kind of a sunrise there was. In prison they make the windows high up, so you cannot climb out of them I suppose, but also so you cannot see out of them either, or at least not onto the outside world. They do not want you looking out, they do not want you thinking the word out, they do not want you looking at the horizon and thinking you might someday drop below it yourself, like the sail of a ship departing or a horse and rider vanishing down a far hillside.