Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Chains: Plot Summary
Chains: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Chains: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Laurie Halse Anderson
Historical Context of Chains
Other Books Related to Chains
- Full Title: Chains
- When Written: 2007–2008
- Where Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- When Published: 2008
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
- Setting: Rhode Island and New York, 1776–1777
- Climax: Having discovered that Ruth is actually on the Lockton plantation in Charleston, Isabel runs away and rescues Curzon from prison.
- Antagonist: Madam Lockton is Isabel’s biggest foe, but most of the novel’s white characters are antagonists in some way.
- Point of View: First Person
Extra Credit for Chains
Epilepsy. Epilepsy, which Ruth suffers from in the novel, was first recorded thousands of years ago. For millennia, it was thought that seizures were a sign that someone was possessed, which led to the kind of superstitions that Madam expresses in the novel (such as that Ruth’s mere presence will curdle milk). Today, epilepsy is understood as a medical condition rather than a spiritual affliction, and there are a variety of treatments available.
How Fashionable. As Isabel observes in the novel, bushy eyebrows were in fashion during the 1700s—but due to the widespread use of lead-based face makeup, which can cause hair to fall out, many women didn’t naturally have full eyebrows. It’s unclear exactly how common mouse-skin false eyebrows were, but they did exist as an alternative to drawing on brows. Satirical poetry from the day, though, does suggest it was common for the mouse-skin eyebrows to fall off the wearer’s face (as Madam’s do in the novel).