Summary: Part IX
Summer has come suddenly to Kingston, and Dr. Jordan feels dazed by the heat. Mrs. Humphrey complains that Dora has been spreading gossip about her financial difficulties and about her husband, who recently ran off without a word of explanation. Pitying his landlady and taking note of her worsening nervous condition, Dr. Jordan goes to the market on her behalf and pitches in to help keep the house clean. He considers asking Grace for advice on domestic tasks but then rejects the thought, telling himself he needs to keep up his “all-knowing” appearance in front of Grace.
Dr. Jordan continues to have sexual fantasies, and as Mrs. Humphrey enters his fantasy visions, the images become increasingly violent. With all of the sudden changes to the household, Dr. Jordan feels his intellectual focus diminishing. He increasingly struggles to hold all of the pieces of Grace’s story together in his mind.
Dr. Jordan receives another letter from his mother, who continues to hint at her desire for him to return home and marry one of the young women in her community. Thinking of himself as a kind of intellectual explorer, Dr. Jordan considers the possibility that his expedition has failed and that maybe he should return home without achieving his goals.
Grace lies awake in the middle of the night, wondering what to tell Dr. Jordan during their next meeting. She’s approaching point in her story when the murders will happen, but her memories of the events remain obscured or forgotten. She thinks of herself as a storyteller still lost in the confusion of the story’s middle part.
Upon waking the next morning, she affirms that she must go on with her story, though she feels as if the story is carrying her inside it against her will as it barrels towards its conclusion.
Dr. Jordan gives a lecture on psychology at the Governor’s house for the community group that meets there every Tuesday afternoon. The group receives his performance with polite applause, but Dr. DuPont shows a deeper interest in Dr. Jordan’s research and his work with Grace.