Monday, 3 September 2007

"Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood: Mary Whitney

Mary Whitney

After her death she becomes Grace’s alter ego.

She is perceptive on Grace being “bright” but “ignorant” 172

A native-born Canadian. 173 “She claimed that her grandmother had been a Red Indian”. 173

Ironically says that Grace looks like “a mad woman” 175

Would sell her body if pushed through hunger. 175

“Mary was a person of democratic views”. 39

She is egalitarian
She advises Grace that she “should remember that we were not slaves, and being a servant was not as thing we were born to, nor would we be forced to continue at it forever; it was just a job of work”. 182 “And one person was as good as the next”. 182

And against inequality:“It angered her that some people had so much and others had so little, as she could not see any divine plan in it.” (Grace on Mary White) 173

Grace on Mary: “she had very democratic ideas, which it took me some getting used to.” 183 Mary would say a poem: “When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?” 183

However Mary can make coarse jokes on life, being a servant and being a woman. See pages 182-3. On the women of the leisured classes not being able to survive if they had to:

“- and if they were to lose all their money tomorrow, they would not even be able to make a living by honest whoring, as they would not know which part was to go where . . .182

Thinks that “men are liars by nature”. 190 (Men and sex)

She is sexually knowledgeable

Full of sexual sayings that Grace remembers afterwards
Grace on MacDermott losing his sexual ardour after threatening to rape Grace: “as Mary Whitney would say, he mislaid the poker”. 386

She falls pregnant to the rich son of Mrs Alderson-Parkinson and is abandoned by him.

Grace soon realises that Mary is pregnant. “I was well aware of what was wrong with Mary” 200

1 comment:

StarLight376 said...

It was Grace who said the thing about she would sell her body if pushed through hunger. "I was indeed curious to see the women who made a living by selling their bodies, because I thought if worst came to worst and if starving, I would still have something to sell; and I wanted to see what they looked like."
But everything else was really good!

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I teach Film, Media and English Lit.