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Alias Grace Discussion Questions. Sections 1−3, Chapters 1−5.

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Presentation on theme: "Alias Grace Discussion Questions. Sections 1−3, Chapters 1−5."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alias Grace Discussion Questions

2 Sections 1−3, Chapters 1−5

3 How is truth defined in the novel? Newspapers Newspapers Poetry Poetry Medical records Medical records Legal records Legal records

4 How is Grace defined in the novel? By the governor’s wife By the governor’s wife By her attorney By her attorney By her own stories By her own stories

5 Describe and interpret Grace’s hallucination/dream/vision. Is it a daydream, a nocturnal dream, a fantasy, or an actual memory? Did Grace play a role in causing Nancy Montgomery’s bleeding? And why does Nancy dissolve into cloth petals?

6 Why does Grace react so badly to the physician? What does it reveal about her feelings? What does it reveal about her feelings? Does this reflect memories that no one wants to hear? Is this why she is returned to the mental asylum? Does this reflect memories that no one wants to hear? Is this why she is returned to the mental asylum?

7 How is Grace deprived of her own voice? As an abuse victim As an abuse victim As a person deemed mentally ill As a person deemed mentally ill As a person who acts “stupid” because others don’t want to hear the truth As a person who acts “stupid” because others don’t want to hear the truth

8 Section 4, Chapters 6−11

9 “But when you go mad you don’t go any other place, you stay where you are. And somebody else comes in.” -- Grace What does this reveal about Grace’s mental illness? What does this reveal about Grace’s mental illness? How does this relate to the idea of Grace’s “alias”? How does this relate to the idea of Grace’s “alias”?

10 How is How is Grace’s life arbitrary and subject to others’ whims? Describe the accounts of Grace given by: Simon Simon Dr. Bannerling Dr. Bannerling Reverend Verringer Reverend Verringer Dr. Workman Dr. Workman

11 Relate Grace’s quilt-making to the story of her life. While the doctors, “collectors,” spiritualists, wardens, and public look at different pieces and scraps of evidence to render swift judgments about Grace’s innocence or guilt, Grace’s skill with quilting represents the fact that she alone owns all the “pieces” of her story—indeed, she makes something whole from scraps. Grace quilts or sews during her first visits with Simon and will continue to do so throughout the novel. The gesture is a metaphor for the work she does in Simon’s care. She is literally re−sewing the pieces of her life together to get a sense of the whole by going through the exercise of recollecting for him.

12 Describe Simon’s relationship to women in this section. His attraction to women gets him in trouble e.g. the Governor’s daughter Lydia His attraction to women gets him in trouble e.g. the Governor’s daughter Lydia he agrees to provide a presentation to the Governor’s wife’s circle—then walks home regretting it, aware that Lydia’s charms motivated him to make a gesture he ordinarily would have avoided.

13 Sections 5−6, Chapters 12−20

14 How do the two illicit pregnancies affect Grace? Her own mother’s pregnancy forces her to marry Grace’s father who is a drunkard and wife beater Her own mother’s pregnancy forces her to marry Grace’s father who is a drunkard and wife beater Mary’s pregnancy and then subsequent abortion kills her Mary’s pregnancy and then subsequent abortion kills her Men are seen as predatory and untrustworthy Men are seen as predatory and untrustworthy

15 How does How does Atwood use premonitions, dreams, and hunches to heighten the suspense in the story during these chapters? Grace and her mother saw three crows on the ship they took to America, which her mother correctly took as a bad omen. (Her mother dies on ship.) Grace and Mary played a game with apple peels to predict their future husband’s names, but when Mary’s peels broke, she was upset—it indicates she won’t marry. Jeremiah’s gypsy predictions of sharp rocks ahead for Grace proved true.

16 What is the importance of dreams in this section? Simon’s dream that he can’t open the doors of the maids’ quarters in his childhood home suggests he can’t unlock the secrets Grace is aware of from her time as a maidservant. His observation that amnesia is a kind of dreaming in reverse—an uncertainty about something possibly imagined in the first place— indicates that Grace isn’t aware of what wasn’t that clear around her to begin with.

17 Explain the importance to Grace of letting souls escape after death Grace is aware that it is important for the souls of the dead to move away from the bodies of the dead. She is careful to give her mother a proper burial at sea, and after Mary dies, she hurries to open the window so Mary’s soul can fly out—a folk custom. But she worries Mary’s soul may not have escaped on time. She hears a voice say to her “let me in” and then “let me out”—as if Mary’s soul implanted in Grace, then thought better of it and wanted to exit after all, but couldn’t. Grace’s resulting “occupation” and delirium point to a state of mind that will prove pivotal in later chapters when it comes time to study Grace’s role (or lack thereof) in the murders.

18 Explain the significance of Simon’s relationship with his landlady Mrs. Humphrey Mrs. Humphrey, has been abandoned by her husband and is broke. He must play the role of gallant knight and rescue her with grocery and rent money, and he observes she is happy to play the role of damsel in distress.


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