Alias Grace Chapters 6-11 Summary & Analysis

Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace

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Alias Grace Chapters 6-11 Summary & Analysis

Part IV: Young Man’s Fancy

Chapter 6 Summary

This chapter consists of three letters: two to Dr. Simon Jordan and one written by Simon to his friend Dr. Edward Murchie. All are dated April, 1859.

The first letter is from Dr. Joseph Workman, Superintendent of the Provincial Lunatic Asylum in Toronto. He cannot tell Simon much about Grace Marks, because he took over the asylum only a few months before she was returned to prison. She spent 15 months in the asylum, leaving in August 1853.

The next letter is from Simon’s mother. She has forwarded Dr. Workman’s letter and encourages Simon to establish himself well in a safe, good paying profession, like textile manufacturing, rather than continuing to study insane people. Her health is also a concern, and she refers to herself as an invalid. She is also worried aboutSimon’s health and advises him to eat well and not to overexert himself mentally.

Simon writes to his friend that he hopes to advance knowledge of the working of the mind in his current assignment. 

Chapter 7 Summary

Simon narrates this chapter. He never expected that he would have to make his living as a doctor; he expected that he would dabble in medicine for a while, then settle down and take over his wealthy father’s textile mills. The unexpected, severe collapse of his father’s business—followed by his death—has changed the direction of Simon’s life, turning what was to be a comfortable and rich life into one of anxious care. Gone are the mills, the large house run by a staff of domestic servants, and with them, his carefree life. His inheritance is small, and he uses most of it to take care of his mother. Simon protects his mother from the knowledge of their exact circumstances, saying, “His father was self-made, but his mother was constructed by others, and such edifices are notoriously fragile” (56). He hopes to parlay this assignment with Grace into patronage and methods for his own a private asylum.

He falls into a reverie about his first meeting with Grace. As he enters her cell, he imagines he sees a slight, hysterical,…

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