The Power

by Naomi Alderman

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Chapters 33–34 Summary

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When Tunde first sets off traveling through Bessapara alone, he finds it relatively easy to do so without worrying about the new laws. In each village he passes through, Tunde always finds at least a few people—almost exclusively men—who are willing to help him, even give him a place to stay for the night.

After weeks of traveling unencumbered, Tunde discovers that the new laws are being enforced when a shop owner refuses to sell him any food without the signature of his female guardian. The shop owner shows Tunde the scars on his hands from the times he has previously violated the law.

Tunde’s experience in Bessapara only worsens from this first incident of discrimination. On an isolated road, Tunde encounters a rotting male corpse affixed to a post, a sign with the word “slut” hanging around its neck. After seeing this, Tunde is more careful in how he travels.

One night as Tunde is walking to his next destination, he sees a flicker of light ahead of him, the unmistakable arc of a woman playing with her power. Terrified, Tunde sprints toward a nearby group of buildings with lit windows, dashing up a fire escape and into an empty storage room.

Tunde plugs his cellphone into an electrical socket for the first time since he left the hotel. He has been saving this for the moment when he could no longer continue his undercover reporting mission in Bessapara. Tunde immediately sends a few emails to some of his editors and the former girlfriend, Nina, to whom he had mailed the burnt DVD he made back at the hotel.

Within minutes, Tunde receives angry replies, each of them asserting that Tunde’s account must have been hacked, because Tunde was killed months ago. A quick search on the internet later, Tunde reads his own obituary, which claims that he was found burned to death after a car accident in the Bessaparan capital, his only identification a labeled suitcase. Tunde thinks that perhaps Tatiana Moskalev ordered that his death be staged just after discovering he had fled the city with his passport. He also clicks on a headline about Nina, which reveals that she has published a book about the revolution. When he finds a sample, he realizes that Nina has published his book. All of the work he has done to document the worldwide movement over the years is now published under someone else’s name. With Tunde presumed dead, no one questions Nina’s authenticity.

Before he can investigate further, Tunde hears the shouts of women outside. He leaves his phone plugged in to the socket. Tunde frantically darts out of the window and onto the roof, jumping from one roof to the next until he can climb down another fire escape. 

After running a sufficient distance, Tunde climbs into a tree in a forested area and decides to stay there for the night. Just as he is nearly asleep, he sees the glimmer of a fire in a nearby clearing. He hears the sounds of people chanting, of drums beating. Naked men and women painted with the symbol of the eye of Fatima are dancing around the fire in some kind of ritual. Tunde is transfixed, becoming sexually aroused as the women shock the men.

He pulls out his manual camera and points its lens toward the scene, but he can barely click the shutter. He sees one woman with hollowed, red eye sockets, and although he does not speak Romanian, Tunde understands what she says. The woman is speaking to a young boy who is brought before her...

(This entire section contains 993 words.)

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in chains. She says that he is the sacrifice to the more powerful. The boy seems to be begging for her to kill him. Tunde wishes that he was the one to be sacrificed. When the blind woman finally administers lethal force, the boy experiences “ecstasy.”

Tunde falls asleep, hoping that things will be better in the morning. When he wakes, he climbs to the ground to start traveling once again. Within seconds, a group of women hiding in the bushes emerges and render him unconscious.

When he regains consciousness, Tunde is contorted into a fetal position inside of a cage. Just as he screams for help, he hears the voice of Roxy Monke before she walks into view.


Tunde uses his charm on Roxy to convince her that she can bargain with the blind woman who runs the forest encampment. Roxy argues with the blind woman to let Roxy take Tunde as her own prisoner.

As soon as they are out of sight, Roxy cuts the rope binding Tunde. She promises that she will help Tunde return home, but it will take her some time. That night, she takes Tunde to a refugee camp. Tunde sleeps in the same tent as Roxy at the camp, and for the first time in a long while, he feels safe.

One night, someone purposely overloads the camp generator, leaving it in total darkness. Roxy startles Tunde awake and tells him to run for a tree and hide. Roxy escapes via another route so that she can see what is happening.

A group of soldiers have invaded the camp, and they are rounding up young men. Roxy then runs for her own tree, where she watches in silence as the soldiers torture, rape, and kill refugees. She realizes there is no reason for them to do this except for the pleasure of it, which angers her since she can no longer intervene since having her skein removed.

The next morning, Tunde scrambles over to Roxy’s hiding place. To distract the soldier who is searching for people hiding in the trees, Tunde throws film canisters into a metal drum some distance away. The sound draws the attention of the soldiers, allowing Roxy and Tunde to escape.

That night, Roxy and Tunde make love in an abandoned train depot.


Chapters 29–32 Summary


Chapters 35–42 Summary