The Power

by Naomi Alderman

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Chapters 9–10 Summary

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After the success of his viral video, Tunde receives a call from CNN requesting to purchase the full-length version of the video at any price he requests. Half asleep and hardly able to comprehend what is happening, he asks for five thousand American dollars, which CNN eagerly accepts.

From that moment on, Tunde dedicates his time to wandering the streets of Lagos in search of more incidents he can capture on camera. Using cheap digital cameras instead of his phone, Tunde captures an argument between two women at the beach and a sexual encounter between a man and woman in an alley. He sells his footage and photographs from these incidents to CNN and takes a leave of absence from school, determined to travel outside Nigeria and jumpstart his career.

Tunde arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, just as a riot breaks out in the city. Despite a warning for foreign visitors to remain in the airport, Tunde pays a fearful cab driver to take him into the city’s downtown, where a group of angry women have begun a demonstration. Shortly before Tunde’s arrival, two twelve-year-old girls were beaten to death by a group of men because they had been practicing using the power together. Enraged at this display of patriarchal violence, young women in Riyadh have taken to the streets in protest.

When Tunde first approaches the crowd of women, they refuse to let a man—even a journalist for CNN—follow them until he strips off his clothes to prove he does not have a concealed weapon. A woman named Noor takes Tunde by the arm as the crowd moves through the city. As onlookers watch from the buildings lining the streets, Noor uses her power to explode the engine of a parked Jeep. Tunde captures this on camera at Noor’s instruction, and more women follow Noor’s example. The protest then becomes a riot.

During his stay in Riyadh, Tunde documents what he calls the beginnings of revolution. He witnesses Noor show an elderly Ethiopian woman how to use the power she never knew existed. He has sex with Noor, experiencing the erotic benefits of the power for himself. He films the rioters killing a man who has just killed three of the women with an assault rifle. Within two weeks, the government of Saudi Arabia collapses, and the king is allegedly murdered.

News coverage at the time shows that what happened in Saudi Arabia is now happening all across the world, and Tunde is pleased that he is one of the journalists on the ground of a global revolution.


Back in the United States, Margot is faced with a crisis: the governor of her state wants to implement a mandatory test for all government employees that confirms whether a woman possesses a skein. The governor believes that those with the power do not belong in civil service, comparing the power to a loaded gun.

Since Margot rediscovered the existence of her skein, she has been practicing her powers in secret—on deserted city streets and in her ex-husband’s garage with her daughter Jocelyn. Unlike Margot, who can switch off an entire row of street lamps with ease, Jocelyn struggles to maintain her power’s intensity. This has caused some social isolation for Jocelyn, as many girls at school now ridicule those who can’t or won’t demonstrate their power in public.

Determined to keep her power a secret from her boss, Margot hopes to beat the test when it is administered at the mayor’s office. She verbally objects to the invasive nature of the test and then prepares to be fired...

(This entire section contains 862 words.)

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once she receives a positive result. To administer the test, the technician places electrodes along the collarbone, arms, and wrists, which deliver tiny electric shocks to the subject in a series ten rounds that increase in intensity. Margot is determined to control her skein while keeping her anxiety and fear hidden.

Although it is difficult, Margot beats the test and is given a negative result. She thinks about how she will be responsible for expanding this testing in the city, and she agrees that it will help keep society safe. She reasons that any woman who cannot control her power under such “mild pressure” is dangerous.

While Margot and other government officials work to prevent violence and social collapse, new trends begin to emerge. Boys begin wearing traditionally feminine clothes, while girls begin wearing traditionally masculine ones. Because more people believe the apocalypse is imminent, membership in radical religious organizations has increased.

Some time after her negative test result, Margot meets with the governor and his chief budget advisor at her office to deliver the mayor’s report. Both the governor and his advisor are disappointed in Margot’s strategy to share with the public any information about the power. While she listens to the men criticize her plan, Margot takes pleasure in the thought that she could easily kill them if she wanted. Emboldened with this knowledge, Margot interrupts the governor, asserting that she knows he doesn’t have any other option but to approve her course of action.


Chapters 6–8 Summary


Chapters 11–13 Summary