Year of Wonders

by

Geraldine Brooks

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Aphra Bont Character Analysis

Aphra is Josiah’s wife and Anna’s stepmother. Smarter than her husband, she’s just as amoral as he is, supporting his greedy behavior and refusing to stop him from abusing Anna as a child. She’s very superstitious and mistrusts the local healers, Mem and Anys Gowdie, but she’s also eager to capitalize on the superstitions of others, selling her neighbors fake charms that she claims will protect them from the plague. After the death of her husband and most of her children, Aphra becomes completely deranged. She abandons even the most basic social conventions, dismembering her dead children instead of burying them, and eventually kills Elinor in front of the entire town. Her behavior shows the extent to which a catastrophe can erode personal sanity and community norms.

Aphra Bont Quotes in Year of Wonders

The Year of Wonders quotes below are all either spoken by Aphra Bont or refer to Aphra Bont . 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:
Community and Convention Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Year of Wonders published in 2002.
Part 2: The Body of the Mine Quotes

I did not go, and for that I will forever reproach myself. Because out of our negligence and her loneliness came much rage. Much rage and some madness – and a surfeit of grief.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Aphra Bont
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

I saw that she had fashioned, instead, a figure that looked like a manikin. This she lay atop the cairn. I commenced to say the Lord’s Prayer, and I thought she was saying it with me in a low, deep-throated murmur. But when I said amen, her muttering continued, and the sign she made at the end of it did not resemble the sign of the cross.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Aphra Bont
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: The Press of Their Ghosts Quotes

By gathering and sorting my own feelings so, I was finally able to fashion a scale on which I could weigh my father’s nature and find a balance between my disgust for him and an understanding of him; my guilt in the matter of his death against the debt he owed me for the manner of my life.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion, Josiah Bont , Aphra Bont
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: A Great Burning Quotes

To be sure, our stocks were nothing so fearful as the Bakewell pillory. In that market town, where people came and went without deep ties to another, to be pilloried was to be a target of rotten fruit or fish heads or any noisome thing the mob could lay a hand to. […] Even Reverend Stanley seldom called for sinners to be stocked, and Mr. Mompellion had actively discouraged it.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Michael Mompellion , Aphra Bont , Thomas Stanley
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

She plunged and leapt, barking out a nonsense chant that rose in pitch to a piercing cry: “Arataly, rataly, ataly, taly, aly, ly…..” She darted then toward the fire, seizing out the ends of an iron that had lain in the blaze, and placed them on the earthen floor so as to form an X. She prostrated herself four times, in each notch of the figure, and then reached up her arms as if in supplication.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Aphra Bont
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Year of Wonders LitChart as a printable PDF.
Year of Wonders PDF

Aphra Bont Character Timeline in Year of Wonders

The timeline below shows where the character Aphra Bont appears in Year of Wonders. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Ring of Roses
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
...at Mem’s neice, Anys, who also works as a healer; Anna notes that her stepmother, Aphra, relies on Anys to cure her children’s minor ailments but fills the house with charms... (full context)
Part 2: Rat-Fall
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...to savor her last hours with her son, holding him and soothing him to sleep. Aphra visits and berates her for expending so much love on a child who, even in... (full context)
Part 2: Venom in the Blood
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
...the church, with Mompellion and Stanley making their case to individuals. Although some, Josiah and Aphra, reluctantly agree only because it seems they have no other option, eventually everyone acquiesces to... (full context)
Part 2: The Body of the Mine
Community and Convention Theme Icon
When Anna runs into Aphra, she attempts to remonstrate with her, but Aphra just says that Josiah is being a... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
...Miner’s Tavern. Anna is worried he will abuse his wife and children and tactfully tells Aphra she can always escape to the Gowdies’ unused cottage, but Aphra laughs at her and... (full context)
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...unguarded, so that someone from his family can come to free him. Anna assumes that Aphra will do this for Josiah, so she doesn’t worry about it. It rains all night... (full context)
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Justice and Judgment Theme Icon
...in the community. Because the Bonts are so resented and disliked, no one checks on Aphra or worries about Joss’s fate. Anna says ominously that “our negligence” would have consequences not... (full context)
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Three days after Josiah’s trial, Aphra arrives at Anna’s cottage, clutching her daughter, Faith, and demanding to know if Anna has... (full context)
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...that wild animals have torn him apart, so that he resembles a “clumsily butchered beef.” Aphra cuts off locks of his hair and decides to bury him right there, so that... (full context)
Part 2: The Press of Their Ghosts
Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...he feared conscription if he fled toward the coast, and Anna says that she thinks Aphra convinced her husband that she had supernatural “chants or charms” to ward off the plague.... (full context)
Part 2: A Great Burning
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Science and Superstition Theme Icon
As the villagers watch their possessions burn, Brand and Robert Snee arrive, carrying Aphra, who is dressed and veiled in black. Brand has caught her trying to sell a... (full context)
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Justice and Judgment Theme Icon
Mompellion manages to quiet the crowd, and says that they will formally bring charges against Aphra the next morning. He tells Brand and Robert to take charge of Aphra until the... (full context)
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Justice and Judgment Theme Icon
In their rage at Aphra’s behavior, Brand and Robert confine her in a particularly cruel manner. Robert stores manure from... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Elinor and Anna take Aphra back to her cottage and begin the difficult task of cleaning her. As Aphra returns... (full context)
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
Worried about Faith, Anna returns every day with food and medicine, but Aphra won’t open the door or let her speak to the girl. Eventually, Anna doesn’t even... (full context)
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...and desperation to rescue Faith, she goes inside. She sees that Faith is dead and Aphra has hung her body from the ceiling, covering her plague sores with chalk. Anna tells... (full context)
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Aphra continues to dance and chant all day, while Mompellion attempts to remonstrate with her and... (full context)
Part 2: Deliverance
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Anna avoids Aphra, telling herself there is nothing she can do and feeling as if interaction with her... (full context)
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...He and Elinor wear all white and carry flowers. But as Mompellion begins to pray, Aphra runs shrieking into the field, waving the knife that had impaled Josiah and caused his... (full context)
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Faith, Suffering, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Justice and Judgment Theme Icon
...breaks away from her body and rolls on the grass. Mompellion is startled and releases Aphra, who is roused to new anger. She slashes Elinor’s throat, killing her. Then she plunges... (full context)
Part 3: Apple-Picking Time
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Justice and Judgment Theme Icon
The villagers bury Faith at her cottage, next to her brothers. Since no one wants Aphra buried within the village, Anna and Brand dig her a grave next to Josiah on... (full context)