Chains

by

Laurie Halse Anderson

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Chains: Chapter 25 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The bees “buil[d] a hive of sadness” in Isabel’s soul, and their dark honey seems to fill her up. The honey makes it hard to think or do anything but scrub and carry. Madam refuses to speak to Isabel and gives her orders through Becky. If Isabel is working in the kitchen, the bees trick Isabel into seeing Ruth’s ghost. When that happens, Isabel feels like she’s burning again. Once, Becky apologizes for what happened, but Isabel instantly forgets what Becky says. Curzon tries to talk to Isabel through the fence most days, but she ignores him.
Isabel is clearly suffering. It’s too painful for her to think about Ruth, and the “bees” in Isabel’s soul keep Isabel from really addressing what happened. Describing being filled up with the dark honey suggests that Isabel is feeling fuzzy and stuck, as though she’s trapped in something sticky and can’t move. And this make sense—Isabel is currently trapped in the system of slavery, and she doesn’t have the mental space or strength to think about how to improve her situation. 
Themes
Freedom Theme Icon
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As July turns into August, British ships continue to arrive with soldiers. Two weeks pass without rain, and rebel troops experience outbreaks of smallpox and dysentery. Isabel prays that Colonel Regan will die a terrible death for betraying her. Near the end of August, the British row to Long Island. Becky sends Isabel to the marketplace since she’s too afraid to go herself. In public, people only see Isabel’s scar, not “the girl hidden behind it.” Later that evening, Becky says that Isabel needs to tell Curzon to go away. Madam wants him arrested.
The novel highlights Isabel’s low status when Becky sends Isabel to the market because she’s too afraid to go herself. Becky can conceivably refuse to do something that scares her—Isabel, as an enslaved person, has no such luxury. Isabel finds that her identity has totally changed since she was branded. Now, people see the I only—though she doesn’t say whether people treat her like a troublemaker, or if they respond with pity.
Themes
Freedom Theme Icon
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
Isabel only goes outside when Becky says it’ll be Isabel’s fault if Curzon is beaten. As soon as Isabel opens the gate, Curzon says they have a lot to talk about. Isabel tells him to go away and refuses to accept his apology. He looks different to Isabel, but she can’t figure out how (lots of things look different after the branding). Curzon asks if Madam has gotten letters from Lockton, and Isabel snaps. She says that the rebels don’t want to free enslaved people, just themselves. She should’ve taken Ruth and run the first night here—at least they’d be together. Curzon grabs Isabel’s hand, but Isabel bends his thumb back until he lets go. As she slams the gate in his face, he says they all have scars.
Isabel has no interest in connecting with Curzon, since it seems like he betrayed her (funneling information to the Patriots on his advice landed Isabel where she is now). But she also doesn’t want him to suffer the way he has, so she’s willing to speak to him if it means Madam won’t hurt him. Isabel also believes that politics stole her attention away from Ruth, so she no longer sees the point in being involved at all. Curzon’s remark that everyone has scars is interesting—it begs the question of what scars he has, for one. But it also highlights that Isabel is far from the only enslaved person who suffers in the colonial system, even if this story is mostly about her.
Themes
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
Related Quotes