Chains

by

Laurie Halse Anderson

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Chains: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While Isabel is in church the following Sunday, the real invasion of New York begins. After three cannon blasts shake the church, Isabel follows everyone outside. Madam asks an officer what’s going on. He says that war is here, but the generals are taking care of things. Civilians should go home and lock their doors. Since Becky has the day off, Isabel serves Madam her midday meal. Madam is surprisingly calm. When she’s done eating, Madam says she’s writing a list for Isabel. Isabel is to go to the shops once the dishes are done. Isabel is terrified, but she remembers a man at the pump saying that if the British win, the enslaved people will be free. Isabel vows to join the British.
When the Patriots controlled New York, things were tense—but not this tense. Isabel now has to deal with the fact that Madam is thrilled about the invasion and sees no reason to worry, since it’s her side that is invading. It’s unclear how dangerous things are on the streets, but given what the officer says, Isabel really shouldn’t be out doing Madam’s shopping at a time like this. Madam just doesn’t care for Isabel’s safety, since she doesn’t see Isabel as fully human. However, Isabel starts to feel better about going out when she realizes that the British might be on her side as well.
Themes
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
This thought seems to wash away the dead bees that have been filling Isabel’s brain. It’s simple: the British will free her and give her work, and Isabel will save so she can afford to rescue Ruth. Madam angrily calls Isabel back to attention and asks if she’s ill. Isabel says she’s fine, but the errand might take some time, with the war happening right outside.
Isabel is young, naïve, and idealistic, so it seems unlikely that things are going to be as simple as she thinks they’ll be. But even if Isabel is wrong in this regard, simply having a plan helps her move forward and start to process her trauma, since the bees disappear for the moment.
Themes
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
Isabel leaves the house and finds herself going the opposite direction as all the patriot soldiers. She finally slips into the abandoned chandler’s shop and sets her basket on the floor. Ruth’s doll is in the basket. Isabel watches people passing outside and urges the British to land soon, before Madam decides to send someone to find Isabel. Finally, things are quiet outside, so Isabel crawls back through the window.
Isabel isn’t free yet, so she still has to worry about what Madam might do if she realizes Isabel is planning to try to free herself. This shows that Isabel is starting to mature some—she no longer blindly trusts that showing loyalty to a side is going to protect her from Madam’s ire.
Themes
Freedom Theme Icon
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon