George Washington's Socks

by Elvira Woodruff
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Based on the book George Washington’s Socks, would you believe someone who claimed to come from another century?

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In this book, the five young members of the Adventure Club of Rumson, Nebraska, travel through time to witness George Washington and his soldiers crossing the turbulent Delaware River in December 1776. One boy, Matt, even accompanies Washington’s march for part of the way toward the battle that takes place...

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In this book, the five young members of the Adventure Club of Rumson, Nebraska, travel through time to witness George Washington and his soldiers crossing the turbulent Delaware River in December 1776. One boy, Matt, even accompanies Washington’s march for part of the way toward the battle that takes place in Trenton. What he and his friends experience is nothing at all like the historic details that they have read about the “adventure.” They learn firsthand about the most personal and complex sides of the Revolutionary War.

In at least three instances, the children are also called out for the way they dress and the way they talk. (See chapters 7, 15, and 20.) Each time, they are quickly seen as different and dangerous. In chapter 15, Matt even tries to explain to Nathan and Temperance Hornbee that he comes from the future, from the twentieth century.

If you need three possible reactions for facing a time traveler, then put yourself in the Hornbees’ shoes. Your reactions could range from (a) shock to (b) confusion, and then finally (c) to a decision of either trust or mistrust. Time travel is not a common enough phenomenon for people to react casually when faced with a tangible example of it. Their initial shock would turn to confusion as they try to sort out how such a process could happen and how this person has come to stand before them. And once they get past the wonder of the process, then they have to decide whether or not the person is trustworthy or if they pose a danger.

The Hornbees both decide that Matt must have gotten some sort of head wound. This is the only reason they can imagine for him to be talking such crazy talk about being from the future. Temperance is especially worried about what Matt would say if any authorities came to the house. She demands that he leave her home immediately.

If you need reasons to believe a time traveler, then you may consider the answers to these questions. Does the person dress, behave, or talk differently than I do? Does the person’s story seem plausible, if time travel is possible? Does the person have information that will help me in my current situation, since they may already know the outcome? We are often inclined to disbelieve someone quicker than to believe them. And when facing someone who is somehow “different,” we can also feel a very real sense of fear. Temperance and Nathan Hornbee were afraid enough of Matt to send him away, back toward the river, riding the mule named Blackjack.

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