The Power

by Naomi Alderman

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Chapters 18–20 Summary

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Margot practices for an impending interview now that she has officially decided to run for governor. While she easily recalls some of her answers to questions about budget, she struggles to remember the third and final reason, causing her to curse at herself. Her advisor urges her to “want it.”

Jocelyn walks into the living room, where Margot is rehearsing. She introduces her mother to a boy named Ryan, who addresses Margot as “Mayor Cleary” and blushes with embarrassment. Though Jocelyn insists that he’s only there to study with her, Margot whispers to Jocelyn to keep the bedroom door open.

Upstairs, Jocelyn closes the door quietly and assures Ryan that her mother will be busy for hours. Jocelyn started talking to Ryan on a chatroom for “deviants.” She went there because of the inconsistency she experiences with her power. Her time at the NorthStar training camps has helped her control the highs, but she still has lows in which she is virtually powerless.

Hoping to find someone like her in the chatroom, Jocelyn got to know Ryan, a boy with a rare chromosomal abnormality that causes males to be born with a skein. Jocelyn and Ryan have met up a few times, but this is the first time she has brought him home.

In the privacy of the bedroom, Jocelyn and Ryan examine each other’s skeins. While he does not have very much power, Ryan practices activating his skein on Jocelyn. She must control her power so that she does not injure Ryan. This is depicted as an erotic activity between the two teenagers.

Downstairs, Margot continues practicing. She fixates on her advisor’s question about why she wants to be governor. Of all the logical, important reasons Margot can think of, Margot admits to herself that the biggest motivator is how much she would love to defeat her current boss, Governor Daniel Dandon, whom Margot has grown to despise.


When she returns home, Roxy brings an idea to her father that is “bigger” than anything anyone else has brought to him in a long while. Roxy, along with a team of chemists, develops a new recreational drug that maximizes the power. Once she finds the right compound derived from a Brazilian tree, Roxy builds a drug empire in Britain.

The drug, called Glitter, is a purple crystalline powder that is often cut with cocaine and other stimulants to dilute its potency, making it safer and cheaper to produce. Drug dealers like Shanti market the drug to wealthy consumers who are eager for something new. Merchants who supply those like Shanti transport the drug inside of hourglasses with telltale purple-tinged sand.

Roxy employs women to ensure that her business partners follow her rules. For instance, one merchant who transports the hourglasses is flagged down for inspection when he goes to pick up his product from a warehouse. Thinking he is about to be caught smuggling drugs, the man is surprised when the woman starts using her power to immobilize him. The strange, merciless woman explains that Roxy is in charge of this part of her father’s business and that Roxy knows the man has been stealing a couple hourglasses of Glitter each month. The woman warns the man to stop or face the consequences.

Roxy funnels some of the profits from the successful scheme into Mother Eve’s accounts, though Roxy keeps this a secret from her father. Meanwhile, Mother Eve has grown popular in Bessapara, where churches have been erected in her name.


Margot faces off against Daniel Derndon in a televised debate for the office of governor....

(This entire section contains 829 words.)

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Derndon’s campaign advisor is worried that Derndon’s poor performance during the first half of the debate will be repeated in the second.

During the intermission between the two halves of the debate, Derndon’s advisor pushes the candidate to act like the man his recently-deceased father would want him to be. Plying Derndon with some cocaine and this pep talk, the advisor hopes for a better performance as the second half of the debate begins.

Derndon is confident and assertive, causing Margot to stumble in her responses. As Derndon becomes more animated, Margot begins gripping the sides of the podium, and viewers notice that she is trying her hardest not to do something. When Derndon insinuates that Margot does not care about her daughters, Margot discharges a small electrostatic shock into Derndon’s ribs. The audience in the room falls silent as the program cuts to commercial.

For the rest of the campaign, Margot trails in the polls as voters express disgust and outrage at Margot’s behavior. Derndon presents himself as the rational, appropriate choice, and public sentiment seems to agree. However, on election night, Margot wins by a wide margin. Derndon concedes on television and wishes his successor luck as the state’s new governor. Margot, however, still feels the need to apologize for what she did on debate night.


Chapters 15–17 Summary


Chapters 21–23 Summary