The Power

by Naomi Alderman

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Chapters 6–8 Summary

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Allie, a mixed-race foster child who has been in multiple placements over the years, lounges in a graveyard with two boys from school. Because she has been practicing how to fine-tune her power for years in private, Allie can light Marlboro cigarettes with her finger. She smokes and teases the two boys, both of whom make sexual advances toward her.

Although Allie often consents to these kinds of encounters, a voice inside her encourages her to use her power instead. The boys persist, and when she says she is not interested, this only angers them. Allies strikes the boy she actually likes in the armpit with a small prick of electricity as he forcibly touches her; she renders the other boy voiceless with a jolt across his throat. The boys angrily leave Allie stranded in the graveyard without a ride home.

Allie hates both her foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery-Taylor. Her foster mother is a condescending, judgmental Christian fundamentalist, while her foster father is the abusive owner of a meat production factory that inhumanely slaughters chickens and pigs while pretending its practices are ethical.

Allie sneaks into her bedroom that evening, only to find her drunken foster father waiting for her in the dark. He calls Allie a “Whore,” saying he saw her in the graveyard with the boys. He then proceeds to rape Allie, as he has done many times before. As usual, Mrs. Montgomery-Taylor is downstairs listening to the radio and drinking sherry, aware of but not caring what her husband is doing upstairs in Allie’s room.

The inner voice that Allie affectionately calls “Mom” urges her to use her power, saying she is ready. Allie places her fingers on both of Mr. Montgomery-Taylor’s temples while he is on top of her. Seeing that her attack has severely injured him, Allie ensures that no one can save him by sending a jolt straight into his heart while he convulses on the floor. Allie quickly gathers a few belongings before slipping out through the bedroom window.


For the next eighty-two days, Allie walks and hitchhikes across the state to avoid detection. She watches for signs and listens to her inner voice for guidance. She does not know during this time of wandering that the Day of the Girls has ignited widespread panic, with an untold number of calls flooding police stations to report menacing girls wielding their power against others.

When Mrs. Montgomery-Taylor discovers her husband’s body in Allie’s room, she formulates a plan before she calls the police. She pulls up his pants and prepares to say that he was giving Allie her catechism when he was attacked.

Fortunately for Allie, the police have been too busy to find her. After the voice commands her to visit an aquarium inside a mall, Allie learns that electric eels can use actually control their prey without physical contact. With this knowledge in the back of her mind, Allie wanders to a convent at the voice’s urging, where a group of kindly nuns eagerly takes in the teenage runaway.

Soon, the convent is filled with young girls like Allie, who now uses the pseudonym Eve. For the first time in her life, Allie feels loved and accepted. She makes friends, practices what she learned about eels on other girls, and decides she wants to stay at the convent forever.

One evening, Allie overhears a group of nuns arguing over whether the girls should be allowed to stay in the convent any longer. Sister Maria Ignacia defends the girls, saying they are children in need of care. Sister Victoria...

(This entire section contains 852 words.)

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suggests the girls are using Satanic powers to spread wickedness, arguing they should vacate the convent. Conflicted over her desire to stay and the apparent opposition of many nuns, Allie asks the voice for guidance. The voice says that Allie, who now thinks of herself as Eve, must “own the place” in order to remain and that she is destined to make a change in the world.


The narrator returns to the events following the murder of Roxy Monke’s mother. Her father, Bernie, knows the identity of the man responsible, and he asks Roxy to show him what she can do. After witnessing the strength of Roxy’s power, Bernie and his associates recruit girls to hone their skills in service of his criminal activities.

At the same time, Bernie plans his retaliation against Primrose, the rival crime boss who ordered the hit on Roxy’s mother. As the most powerful of the girls, Roxy is involved in this plot, even tagging along to witness the attack unfold in a warehouse. To everyone’s surprise, Primrose has prepared for the ambush with far more men than Bernie brought along. Snorting some of the cocaine her older brother gave to her to quiet her fears, Roxy is able to defeat Primrose’s men single-handedly. She follows Primrose as he tries to escape and tortures him with her power as he pleads for his life. Enraged at the thought of her mother’s suffering, Roxy kills Primrose.


Epigraph–Chapter 5 Summary


Chapters 9–10 Summary