Immediately after the events at the end of the last chapter, Mr. Finch and his colleague, Dominic, climb aboard the train, which is now a crime scene. Finch walks to Prothero’s train car, where he finds a strange symbol: a V surrounded by a circle, carved onto the door. He sees two dead bodyguards, and notes, terrified, that whoever killed them probably did so ”with his finger,” stabbing into their chests. Finch also notices a rose placed on the train seat. It is a kind called a “Violet Carson,” supposedly extinct since “the war.” Finch notes that his suspect seems to have a fondness for the letter “V.” He realizes that this figure must have kidnapped Lewis Prothero.
The more we learn about the mysterious figure, the more intimidating he becomes—seemingly capable of killing humans with one finger. At the same time, we recognize that the figure has a theatrical fondness for symbols, big, dramatic gestures—like the roses—games, and wordplay. Theatricality is an important weapon for the figure: he uses it to confuse and intimidate his opponents—to become larger than just one person, and to act as a symbol himself.
Meanwhile, in the Shadow Gallery, the masked man greets the woman, who is resting. The man introduces himself as V, and the woman calls herself Evey Hammond. Although Evey insists that there’s nothing “special” about her, V asks her to tell him about her life. Evey begins by saying that she’s sixteen: she was born in 1981. She grew up in the midst of a horrible recession which made her family very poor. When she was seven, she continues, there was a horrible war, loosely related to a conflict between “President Kennedy” and the Russians. In the ensuing conflict, Africa was blown up with nuclear missiles. This environmental disaster changed the weather in London, causing acid rain and floods.
In this section, we’re finally given some important information about our two protagonists, Evey Hammond and V. We also learn about the futuristic events that have led England to Fascism. Moore seems to be freely riffing on the historical events of the 1980s (the graphic novel was published in 1989), when the United States was locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, both stockpiling nuclear missiles. In Moore’s vision of the future, America and Russia finally start a nuclear war. In reality, the Soviet Union would collapse only a few years after V for Vendetta was released.
Evey continues explaining her story to V. In 1991, Evey’s mother died of one of the diseases spread by the nuclear fallout. Riots became increasingly common, and slowly the existing government collapsed. Then, in 1992, the remaining power groups in England, including right-wing politicians and corporations, seized power. They called their political party “Norsefire.” The Norsefire party succeeded in restoring order to England, but at a price: they imprisoned Pakistani and African immigrants, along with homosexuals, often sending them to concentration camps or factories. Evey’s father was arrested for having had socialist sympathies as a young man. This left Evey to fend for herself. She tried working at a factory, but eventually was forced to turn to prostitution—this is what she was attempting when V first met her. Evey begins to weep. V comforts Evey and tells her that it’s time to “start again.”
At the time when Moore was writing his graphic novel, conservatives were in power in both England and the United States. Moore, an anarchist, despised the conservative leadership for emphasizing “traditional values” and discriminating against anyone who deviated from the norm. Moore also alludes to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s (see Background Information). In the future, he suggests, governments will persecute the homosexual community even more explicitly than in the past. One final theme that Moore establishes in this scene is Evey’s desire for a father. Evey tells V that she’s lost her father, and then embraces V. The message is clear: Evey turns to V because she needs a father figure.
Lewis Prothero wakes up in a strange arena, wearing an old military uniform. He sees a sign that says, “Larkhill Resettlement Camp,” a message he seems to find disturbing.
Prothero is clearly facing some kind of “contrapasso”: a situation (usually from Dante’s Inferno) where one’s punishment fits one’s crime.
It is November 7, 1997, and Mr. Finch has gone to visit the Leader. Finch explains to the Leader that “V,” as he’s been called, is a psychopath, capable of killing for any reason. The Leader acknowledges that V has been successful in attacking his government’s credibility: with Lewis Prothero kidnapped, there will have to be a new Voice of Fate. This will be disastrous, because the people of London sincerely believe that the Voice of Fate is the “true” voice of the “Fate Computer.” The Leader concludes that the belief in the “integrity of Fate” is the cornerstone of his government. Finch bravely admits that he finds this belief contemptible. The Leader nods and reminds Finch that he would gladly execute Finch for treason if it weren’t for the fact that Finch is excellent at his job.
Mr. Finch makes explicit what we’d already recognized: V has disturbed the strength of the Norsefire state by kidnapping Prothero. The irony is that Norsefire is a victim of its own success: because it’s been successful in deluding Londoners into believing that Fate itself reads the news, it’s comically easy for V to expose the weakness of this lie. We also see further cracks in the state’s power, as not all the party officials believe in the supremacy of the Leader. Eric Finch distrusts Fate and the Leader—a fact that he can only admit because he knows he’s too valuable to be murdered.