Mr. Robert’s mouth tightened like a rope pulled taut.
"Chains," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-11
November 14, 2013
The question of who gets to be free is addressed in "Chains" by Laurie Halse Anderson. A thirteen year old girl, Isobel, sees that Freedom is all anyone can talk about during the Revolutionary War. Isobel realizes, however, that as a slave girl she will be denied freedom no matter who wins the war. So she decides to do something about it.
Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-11, Chapters 12-22, Chapters 23-33, Chapters 34-45
Mr. Robert’s mouth tightened like a rope pulled taut.
No ghosts yet, just ash trees and maples lined up in a mournful row.
I could hear cows mooing in a far pasture and bees buzzing in a nearby clover patch.
“Apologies, sir,” I said, wincing with pain.
Calico was a material imported by the East India Company (a large British business with interests in India, which was under British domination). The fact that there was calico in the American Colonies shows how powerful and influential the British Empire was; despite this, the colonies were about to start a war.
We couldn’t take Momma’s shells, nor Ruth’s baby doll made of flannel bits and calico, nor the wooden bowl Poppa made for me.
Compare to "propriety" in the list for Chapters 12-22: both come from the Latin "proprietas" which means "ownership" but "proprietor" refers to the physical ownership of property while "propriety" refers to the self-possession that comes with knowing and following the rules of polite society.
The proprietor called her over to join us.
"Indentured servants" were people that sold their services to someone who had the money to ship them to the Americas. In return, they had to work without payment for a certain number of years (stated in the contract) until they had more than repaid the cost of their passage and were then freed to work for themselves.
“ Indentured servants complain all the time and steal us blind at the first opportunity."
The word "snuff" could be a pun here, because "up to snuff" means "up to standard" and the descriptions of the clothes sound like they belong to someone who's trying hard to impress.
He wore a red silk waistcoat under a snuff-colored coat with silver buttons, a starched linen shirt, and black breeches.
“I pledge myself to our rightful sovereign, the King, sir,” Mr. Robert said.
The husband was a head taller and twice the girth of most men.
“Why not wait, Anne, and procure another indentured girl in New York?”
“I do not brook foolishness,” she said.
Compare with "impudence" in this list--focus on the second half of the identical definitions and the mood created by the attitudes towards the people seen to be insolent or impudent.
Insolence will not be tolerated, not one bit.
“It is Providence that put them in our path.”
Compare with "insolence" in this list--although the two modern definitions are identical, the obsolete definition of "impudent" as "immodest" (in addition to its Latin root of "pudere" which means "to be ashamed") suggests that "impudence" can be seen as a rudeness that is not as disturbingly direct as "insolence" and thus can be more patiently tolerated.
“Such impudence is disturbing,” Lockton said.
“I thank you, sir, for the meal and the transaction."
I spent most of the voyage bent double over a puke bucket, bringing up every scrap of food and swallow of brackish water I choked down.
The working people were dressed muchly as we did out in the country, but there were a few gentry who stuck out of the crowd like peacocks wandering in the chicken pen.
Behind him walked a slave boy about my height, whose arms were weighted down with a wooden contraption and a small case with a rope handle.
Bellingham inclined his head toward Madam.
You’ve come home to fight us who strive for freedom and liberty.
“Do I gather, sir, from your hesitation, that you are unsure of the etiquette involved?"
A woman defending her underclothes from a battalion of soldiers was comical.
I curtsied, bewildered at the speed of it all.
“Country girls are slow-moving, vexing creatures,” he said.
He started walking again, nattering on and on about plots and conspiracies and battle plans and secrets, but truth be told, my mind drifted.
Becky came out carrying a tarnished silver teapot and a stack of china cups and plates.
Madam called for tea in her bedchamber the next morning and sent for Ruth, who was pumping the butter churn with vigor.
Madam called her surly and took to beating her regular-like.
Becky was somewhere in the crowd watching General Washington parade down Broadway with five regiments of soldiers.
She nattered on about the spectacle whilst assembling the tea things for Madam and Lady Seymour, who had come again to call.
The front windows were open, bringing in fresh air and noise from the street; carts rolling over the cobblestones and church bells in the distance mingled with the voices of the four men who sat around the enormous desk.
The description starts off sounding like sincere praise with the adjectives "magnificent" and "fine" but it turns sarcastic when it matches the positive adjective "inimitable" to the negative traits of "pride and conceit." The second half of the sentence insultingly accuses the people of intolerable profaneness ("unholiness"), prevalent ("most frequent or common") lack of principle, and an insufferable ("extremely annoying") political loyalty.
Why the people are magnificent; in their carriages, which are numerous, in their house furniture, which is fine, in their pride and conceit, which are inimitable, in their profaneness, which is intolerable, in the want of principle, which is prevalent, and in their Toryism, which is insufferable.
A low settee stood in front of the fireplace, and a mirror framed in mahogany hung above the mantel, flanked by oil lamps fastened to the walls.
"The Provincial Congress will compensate you, of course."
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