Chains

by

Laurie Halse Anderson

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Chains: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Curzon tells Isabel to follow and then runs off without looking back. Isabel runs after him, begging for him to slow down. When he finally stops, she angrily asks why Curzon moves so fast, and why she’s buying water; do people not dig wells here? Curzon insists that country girls are slow and annoying. Finally, Isabel apologizes. Curzon explains that rich people get their water from the Tea Water Pump, since it tastes the best. He’s running an errand for his master here, at the stationer’s shop, and then they’ll head for the pump. Curzon goes into the shop and returns a moment later with packages and two steaming, buttered rolls. He leads her to a courtyard where a garden is just starting to come up and then offers Isabel the rolls.
Not even other Black enslaved people are very helpful or welcoming to Isabel at first. Curzon makes it clear that he sees Isabel as an outsider, since she’s a “country girl” and clearly doesn’t understand how things are done in New York. But despite Curzon and Isabel’s rough start, Curzon also seems to genuinely want to help and make Isabel feel better about being here—giving her the steaming rolls, for one, is a huge improvement over the wormy biscuits Isabel and Ruth had for breakfast. It’s also unclear where Curzon got the biscuits, or why; there may be someone in the stationer’s shop who sympathizes with enslaved people.
Themes
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
Curzon sits and asks if Ruth is Isabel’s sister, and if that’s why Isabel took the hit meant for Ruth. He says that Lockton is a “dirty Loyalist,” but Isabel says she doesn’t care. Curzon then asks if Isabel feels loyal to the Locktons; Lockton can feed her or hang her whenever he’d like. Isabel considers and says that for now, she is loyal to Lockton. But she hates this thought. Quietly, Curzon whispers that Isabel would be better off giving her loyalty to the rebels. She might hear things at the Lockton house.
For Curzon, the war and the tense political climate are extremely important—he’s calling Lockton a “dirty Loyalist” because the issue is important to him. But Isabel’s concerns are more personal. She doesn’t like or respect Lockton, but she knows she depends on him now to feed her—and not to hang her. So for now, it makes more sense for her to identify with the Loyalists.  
Themes
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As Curzon talks about the brewing war and the significance of New York to each side, Isabel’s mind drifts. She needs to get back to Ruth. But it finally occurs to her that Curzon wants her to be a spy, and she notes that they’ll torture her if they find out. Curzon tells her that the Patriots will reward her for her help; Captain Regan might even send her back to Rhode Island. All she has to do is listen for talk of the King’s troops. Isabel spits that nobody will talk in front of her, but Curzon insists that they will. She’s “a slave, not a person.” If she hears anything, she should come to him; Curzon tells her where to find him. Isabel refuses. 
Isabel doesn’t think she can trust anyone yet in New York—Curzon especially, since he’s inviting her to do such dangerous things. For Isabel, it’s far more important to do what she believes will keep her and Ruth safe. That means doing what she’s told for the Locktons, and definitely not sneaking out to talk to Curzon. This passage also implies that Isabel’s experience being enslaved in Rhode Island was better than it will be here. She expects the Locktons to treat her like a person, who will pay attention to what other people say—but per Curzon, Isabel will not be treated like a person here.
Themes
Freedom Theme Icon
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
Related Quotes