Laurie Halse Anderson

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Miss Mary Finch Character Analysis

Miss Finch is deceased in the novel, but prior to her death she owned Isabel and Ruth. She had some beliefs many white people consider “peculiar”—she taught Isabel to read and stipulated in her will that upon her death, Isabel, Ruth, and Momma (had she not died a year before the novel begins) should be freed. However, since the lawyer who wrote Miss Finch’s will left town with the document, there’s no way for Isabel to prove she’s supposed to be free.

Miss Mary Finch Quotes in Chains

The Chains quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Mary Finch or refer to Miss Mary Finch. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Atheneum Books for Young Readers edition of Chains published in 2010.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“You feel beholden to Lockton?”


“He’s going to feed you and your sister, give you a place to sleep. He can order you sold, beat, or hung, if the mood takes him. That could make a person feel a kind of loyalty.”

I stopped, considering this. “Someday I’ll find that lawyer and Miss Mary’s will and that’ll free us. Until then, we need to eat, work, and stay together. So yes, I guess I’m loyal to Lockton.”

The words tasted bitter. Being loyal to the one who owned me gave me prickly thoughts, like burrs trapped in my shift, pressing into my skin with every step.

Related Characters: Curzon (speaker), Isabel (speaker), Master Elihu Lockton, Ruth, Miss Mary Finch
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

“What is your name, girl?” she asked me.

“Isabel, ma’am,” I said. “Isabel Finch.”

“Ridiculous name,” Madam said. She opened her fan and waved it in front of her face. “You are called Sal Lockton now. It’s more suitable.”

I forced myself to breathe in slow and regular instead of telling her that my name was not her affair. “Yes, ma’am.”

Related Characters: Lady Seymour (speaker), Isabel (speaker), Madam Lockton (speaker), Miss Mary Finch
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
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Miss Mary Finch Character Timeline in Chains

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Mary Finch appears in Chains. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
...Ruth (who has a “peculiar manner of being”) sits next to the coffin that holds Miss Mary Finch , and Mr. Robert Finch rides behind. When Pastor Weeks explains to Mr. Finch that... (full context)
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
...kerchief appear in the mist. As Isabel begs Momma to visit her, the wagon carrying Miss Finch reaches the graveyard gate. (full context)
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
...but Isabel didn’t know what to do—she only said some prayers. As the men unload Miss Finch ’s coffin, Isabel leaves an offering of an oatcake smeared in honey. She turns and... (full context)
Chapter 2
Freedom Theme Icon
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...and sleep. When Pastor Weeks says Mr. Robert owns the girls now, Isabel says that Miss Finch freed them in her will. At this, Mr. Robert snorts—his aunt didn’t need a will.... (full context)
Chapter 3
Freedom Theme Icon
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
Mr. Robert takes Isabel and Ruth back to Miss Finch ’s house so they can collect their shoes and blankets. Isabel can’t take anything else—not... (full context)