Alias Grace Chapters 38-40 Summary & Analysis

Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace

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Alias Grace Chapters 38-40 Summary & Analysis

Part X: Lady of the Lake

Chapter 38 Summary

Grace takes up her story again the next day. She comes to in her own bed, but she is damp. James McDermott says that he threw a bucket of cold water on her to revive her after she fainted.

He tells her it’s time for her to give him what she promised, which is to sleep with him. She puts him off. She is convinced that McDermott is a madman. She plays along, out of fear that otherwise he will kill her too.

They decide to rob the house before they leave, and they take all the valuables they can find, including Mr. Kinnear’s personal effects, like his gold watch, and the silver candlesticks. Grace puts on Nancy’s clothes and burns her own.

She cannot find her kerchief, and she asks McDermott where it is. He laughs and says she should know that it’s in the cellar on Nancy’s neck, where she put it when she used it to strangle her.

They take the horse and wagon and set off for Toronto with their loot that evening.

Chapter 39 Summary

They reach Toronto a little after five a.m. They have breakfast, and Grace is afraid all the time because McDermott is swaggering around drawing attention to them. The ferry for the United States leaves at eight a.m.

When McDermott goes off to get shaved, Grace has an opportunity to get help, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t want to betray McDermott.

In these chapters, after she chooses not to run for help, she calls him James rather than McDermott. They take the steamer across the lake to the United States. James tells her they should pretend to be brother and sister. She takes the name Mary Whitney, while James becomes David Whitney.

When they reach the United States, they head for the first tavern they can find to eat. James drinks a lot. Up to this point McDermott assumes that he and Grace are going to get married. Grace tells him she’d rather marry the devil. She decides that she’s going to get up early and steal away, as they are in…

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