Alias Grace Questions and Answers: Sections 7-8, Chapters 21-31

Margaret Atwood

Questions and Answers: Sections 7-8, Chapters 21-31

Questions
1. Who does the author imply Mary Whitney’s suitor might have been?

2. What does Grace’s initial belief about Nancy’s potential friendship say about her? What does Nancy’s behavior say about her view of a relationship?

3. What signs of Nancy and Mr. Kinnear’s relationship does Grace overlook before McDermott explains the relationship to her?

4. How does the author introduce the idea that the cellar is of special significance?

5. How is the idea of popular truth versus “God’s truth” explored in this section?

Answers
1. It’s implied that George Parkinson was Mary’s suitor and lover. He remained behind after Christmas holidays, and Grace noticed that he was indulged and accustomed to having his way. That Mrs. Alderman Parkinson will offer glowing references and spending money in exchange for Grace not disclosing Mary’s suitor indicates she too may believe her son is to blame.

2. Grace’s youth makes her naïve and trusting. When she arrives at Mr. Kinnear’s, Nancy makes a point of not greeting her and hovers near Mr. Kinnear. In this way, Nancy is making it clear to Grace that he is her priority.

3. Nancy is jealous or behaves oddly whenever Mr. Kinnear is around and tries to control Grace’s exposure to him. Nancy dines with Mr. Kinnear and is given music lessons, nice clothes, and jewelry; in addition, her bedroom is down the hall from his. When Grace asks why Mr. Kinnear isn’t married, Nancy says not all men should marry. Kinnear’s male friends’ wives won’t visit his house. Grace and Nancy are given funny looks at church.

4. Nancy says on a few occasions that she is scared of the cellar and does not like to go into it.

5. Grace tells Simon that what is in the paper or said by others isn’t necessarily “God’s truth,” as if to differentiate between the truths humans create and the divine or absolute truth that a higher power might be aware of. At church, the sermon on Divine Grace suggests that those who feel they are safe in God’s grace aren’t necessarily so and that there is a higher truth mortals may not be aware of. This theme fits with the role of grace in the life of the aptly-named protagonist.