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76 pages 2 hours read

Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Character Analysis

Grace Marks

An Irish immigrant and convicted murderess, Grace Marks remains an enigma from beginning to end. An astute observer, she notices every detail of her surroundings and of people’s appearances. She is also intelligent, with a detailed knowledge of the Bible. Her memory for people, the places she has been, and all she sees is remarkable. A beautiful woman with red hair and large blue eyes, she is also suggestible, imaginative, and highly emotional, even hysterical. When she experiences an intense emotion, such as fear or grief, she is prone to fits of unconsciousness and memory loss. She also experiences visual and auditory hallucinations, such as seeing red peonies grow out of the ground or hearing voices whisper in her ear.

Her early life in Ireland was full of hunger and deprivation, and, at a young age, she had the serious responsibilities of taking care of her siblings and helping her mother sew shirts to earn money. Her father drank and beat her mother and could not adequately support his family.

She experiences additional traumas in the deaths of her mother and her only friend Mary Whitney. In both cases, Grace is abandoned, without guidance or protection. Grace never recovers from Mary Whitney’s death.

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