How much of a role do you think Grace's social standing as an Irish Immigrant played into her involvement in the murder and ultimately the fairness of her trial in Alias Grace?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Let us remember that Canada at that time was full of immigrants, and whilst the way Grace was thought of and treated is shown to be a product to a large extent of her immigrant status, we must not let this detract from the overwhelming focus on the issue of gender and how the biggest factor that influences how Grace is treated is her state of beign a woman. Overall, it is the contemporary notions of femininity that save Grace, as it was believed at this point in history that women were weak, moral and virtuous creatures who were unable to commit such crimes as brutally killing another being. In spite of the evidence that links Grace to the crime, she is pardoned and lives the rest of her days as a free woman. This pardon is of course juxtaposed with the fate of Grace's male accomplice, James McDermott. The novel indicates no debate or discussion about whether he was guilty or not.

In addition, let us consider the relationship between Jamie Walsh and Grace. It is suggested that Jamie Walsh, in spite of his romantic feelings towards Grace, testified agaisnt her in course because of his jealousy about the potential relationship Grace had with McDermott. In spite of this, it is Walsh who is a vital part of winning Grace's release as he promises to marry her and to look after her. It is nineteenth-century notions of femininity that ultimately save Grace as she is viewed as "the weaker sex," and it is this view that brings Walsh to understand that he has a moral imperative to "save" Grace. Thus, whilst Grace's identity as an immigrant is of course important, in terms of what impacts her trial and treatment more, we can see that her gender is the key aspect.


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