Questions and Answers: Sections 9-12, Chapters 32-44
1. Grace says that “my true voice could not get out” at the time of her trial. Now, many years later and with Simon listening, “the story must go on with me." What does this say about Grace’s role in her own story?
2. What does Grace’s dream about Mary appearing to her predict?
3. Is Grace a murderer or a victim of circumstances created by a murderer?
Explain how she could be perceived as both partly responsible and also a victim.
4. What conspicuous clues do Grace and McDermott leave behind them as they travel?
5. What might Simon learn from his new affair with Mrs. Humphrey?
1. Grace’s lawyers, the media, and others decided for her what her story was. Now, with Simon, her story goes on “with me,” or with Grace playing a role in its narration. She is not sure what happened, but she is working to reconstruct the event or at least the confusion and misunderstandings surrounding it. In doing so, she can correct the record.
2. The dream explains the significance of red cloth peonies appearing. Grace once gave Mary a red cloth satchel. The dream also indicates to Grace that Mary’s soul needs to be released, even though Grace does not yet know she harbors it within her. Later in the novel, Grace, under hypnosis, will confess that Mary acted through Grace and played a role in the murder.
3. Grace is partly responsible in that she warned Nancy about the potential murder but did not explain further when it was clear that Nancy didn’t take the warning literally. Grace realized McDermott saw her discouragement as a taunt and didn’t stop him. Grace is a victim in that she is frightened of McDermott and can’t stop him once he has killed Nancy, for he hovers over her. He shoots at her with his gun after he kills Kinnear and nearly rapes her several times before and after they flee. She accompanies him, but more as a hostage than as an accomplice.
4. Their coach is recognized in Toronto. McDermott wears Mr. Kinnear’s boots, and onboard the ship bound for America, he sells a horse for lower than normal prices, which raises eyebrows and delays them in customs. He spends money liberally and makes quirky demands. The duo is unaware that guests of Mr. Kinnear are scheduled to visit on Sunday, rather than Monday, giving them one day less to create distance from home.
5. Simon might learn that some women are conniving, as Nancy Montgomery was, especially when they are victims of circumstance or abandoned by their partners. But, more importantly, Simon learns what it’s like to be implicated in a scandal.