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76 pages 2 hours read

Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Part VI, Chapters 17-20Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part VI: "Secret Drawer"

Chapter 17 Summary

Simon dreams he is in his childhood home, in the attic passageway where the maids sleep. In his childhood and adolescence, he would sneak up to their rooms and rummage around in their belongings, touching their ribbons and undergarments. In his dream, he knows the maids are waiting for him inside their locked rooms. He finds himself in the sea. The maids caress him then swim away. He is floating in an ocean containing his father’s sold objects: a silver tray, a gold watch, and so on. He wakes and associates Grace’s story of the ocean crossing and her father with his dream.

Simon believes that dreams may be a key to unlocking memories, as many psychoanalysts of the time believe dreams reveal the working of the unconscious mind. He records his dream in a journal.

His landlady faints bringing in his breakfast tray. He carries her to his bed to examine her. Once she regains consciousness, she tells him that she fainted because she’s had nothing to eat for two days since her husband has taken all their money and left. She owes the maid, Dora, three months wages, so Dora has quit.

Simon tries to find a way out of this responsibility, but Mrs.

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