Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Scott O’Dell’s Sarah Bishop is a straightforward narrative of a young woman’s fight to survive the personal consequences of the American Revolution. The early conflict in the book centers on Sarah’s father and brother, who have chosen different sides in the rebellion. Sarah’s father, James, has remained loyal to the “homeland,” while her brother, Chad, enlists with the Patriots. At first, the Patriots merely warn James that his views are unpopular, but one night they burn his barn and house while tarring and feathering him. He dies the next day. After her father’s death, Sarah leaves her neighbor, Mrs. Jessop, and sets out to find her brother, having had no word from him since his enlistment.

While negotiating the various levels of the military, Sarah finds a place to stay for the night but is caught in a fire, one that a British officer accuses her of starting. While held by the British troops, a kind lieutenant allows her to go to the prison ship where Chad was sent. When she arrives, she talks with her brother’s friend, David, who tells her that Chad died that morning. Escaping from her captors, Sarah returns to Mrs. Jessop, acquires a gun, and “disappears” into the wilderness for solace. Relying on her own survival skills, she creates a home for herself in a cave on Long Pond, sharing it with a white bat that becomes her pet.

Sarah’s peaceful life is upset when she rescues Sam Goshen, a trapper and trader...

(The entire section is 481 words.)