Alias Grace

discuss how margaret atwood's decision to alternate between grace's memories, news accounts , and a historical ppeom in the book's inital chapters impact the reader's understand of events in the text?

novel by margaret atwood

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At a first glance Alias Grace seems to have a fragmentary structure, because of the plentiful fragments, excerpts and quotations. However, if looked at from a distance, i.e. after having finished reading, a different structure appears: the novel is like a patchwork quilt which is made of many tiny pieces, which do not have a meaning as single elements, but once they are placed in the right place in the greater structure, they make sense and unveil a clear pattern.

The novel’s narrative structure displays a duplicity, which haunts the reader throughout the book. Margaret Atwood has inserted elements which question Grace’s reliability as a narrator, mainly when Grace thinks aloud in her interior monologues and admits to adapt her story to her purposes.I think this patchwork serves to give the reader a very detailed view of Victorian life. From the structural point of view, Alias Grace proves Margaret Atwood’s writing talent to the utmost. In fact, Margaret Atwood juggles with an enormous amount of historical information as if she had herself lived in the nineteenth century.


Because this novel is based on reality (although this is historical fiction), Atwood's decision to alternate the way she tells her story helps the the reader understand the context an history of the actual events.

Her main character, Grace Marks, is one of the 1800's most famous criminals based on her involvement in the Kinnear-Montgomery murders. It was important for Atwood to set the setting early in the novel because the setting is an integral part of the story. The murders themselves took place on July 23, 1843, and Atwood uses exact dates/places for all of the events that took place All events are dated to their actual time. Thus, the use of news accounts and court records are important to the author in setting the stage.

The murders took place in Kingston, Canada; a very small town. At that time, and in that place, there was no theory of "innocent until proven guilty." Grace Marks was judged guilty before she was tried; it was a public conviction without a real trial. The trial itself was a sham.

Thus, the time period is very important when reading the text. Without the facts she uses, Atwood wouldn't be able to make her audience understand how the events were possible. Sentencing was harsher than it is today, the punishment for murder was death by hanging. Prison conditions were horrific, asylums treated their wards like animals, diagnosing mental incapacity was non-existent.

Grace's memorites are important because they're her own experiences; the clipping because they lay a foundation for the plot, and the poem....... it fits.

Atwood is a fantastic author.


Alias Grace