Elaine waits against the wall of the school building without moving because of a new game Cordelia has invented. Elaine stares up at the sky until she makes herself faint. Cordelia and the others treat Elaine kindly on the way home from school. After this, Elaine faints on command to avoid Cordelia’s torments until Cordelia catches on. 

Summary: Chapter 33

Back in the present, Elaine eats pizza on the way back to Jon’s studio. She considers that Ben makes her eat healthy food at regular times, whereas she eats junk food when left to her own devices. At the studio, she scans the phone book, but can’t find the names of anyone she once knew in Toronto. 

Summary: Chapter 34

While playing school at Grace’s house after Sunday dinner, Elaine passes by the kitchen on her way to the bathroom. She overhears Mrs. Smeath talking to Grace’s Aunt Mildred about Elaine. Aunt Mildred complains that Elaine is a hopeless heathen. Mrs. Smeath agrees that Elaine deserves the way the other girls treat her. When the two women catch Elaine standing there, Mrs. Smeath admonishes Aunt Mildred about being overheard. 

After that, Elaine refuses to pray to God anymore. She won’t say the Lord’s Prayer because she doesn’t want to forgive Mrs. Smeath. On the way home from school, Elaine finds a piece of paper from the local Catholic school with a picture of the Virgin Mary on it. She resolves to pray to the Virgin Mary.

Summary: Chapter 35

It’s March, and the girls run through the snow and make snow angels. Cordelia slips on the hill by the ravine and rolls down. At first the girls laugh because they think she rolled down intentionally, and Cordelia fumes at Elaine for laughing. Cordelia grabs Elaine’s hat, tosses it into the ravine, and orders Elaine to retrieve it, promising forgiveness if she does. She tells Elaine to count to one hundred after she gets the hat before coming back to the bridge. When Elaine goes to get her hat, the ice on the river breaks, and icy water fills her boots. The cold on shore hurts even more, and Elaine can’t climb back up the ravine. She lies on the ground, helpless, until she sees a figure standing before her. It appears to be a woman in a long skirt with a dark hood and her heart pinned to her chest. The woman whispers that Elaine can go home. 

Analysis: Chapters 31–35

Elaine receiving the most Valentine’s Day cards hints at the shifting power dynamics to come when Elaine reaches puberty. In Elaine’s extremely binary understanding of the world, she has an affinity for the world of boys because of her love of science and nature. Elaine also has reason to believe that the masculine world recognizes this affinity in her, as when Mr. Smeath insists that Elaine appreciated the fart joke. However, we recognize Elaine’s interpretation of why she received valentines as a naïve misinterpretation. Although the boys in her class probably don’t understand why they like Elaine, the valentines suggest some form of puppy love and early attraction. The gender-segregated world of adolescence means that Elaine’s ability to align herself to the world of girls has controlled her happiness. However, as demonstrated by Carol’s attempts to look womanly after the growth of her breasts, the girls will soon rely more on the opinions of boys than the opinions of other girls. Atwood demonstrates this power shift with how Carol’s parents punish her for wearing the lipstick. While Carol’s mother berates her, her father holds the ultimate authority when he whips her.