In Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Chains, how can one understand the following quote: "The beast has grown too large ... If it breaks free of its chains, we are all in danger. We need to cut off its head"?
It seems the beast is referring to Washington, but who is the head?
In Chapter XIV of Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains, Master Lockton is in the back room of the house with Goldbuttons and the mayor discussing the rising rebellion of the colonists against the king of England. More specifically, as Tories, supporters of the king, they are trying to settle on a plan of action to bring the rebellion to a halt. Goldbuttons has informed them that Congress in Philadelphia is "close to declaring independence," and even the mayor reports that whispers of a revolution can be heard "as far away as Georgia" (88, 89). It's during this conversation that the mayor exclaims the quote in question:
The beast has grown too large ... If it breaks free of its chains, we are all in danger. We need to cut off its head. (89)
Hence, when he speaks of the beast, he is actually referring to Congress in Philadelphia, which is ready to declare independence from England, and all the rest of the rebellious colonists who are getting prepared for a revolutionary war.
Immediately after the mayor speaks of "cutting off [the beast's] head," when asked "how" by Goldbuttons, the mayor immediately replies, "We must kill their commander" (90). The conversation continues as the mayor discusses killing General George Washington. His argument is that plans for the revolutionary war can't possibly continue if the revolutionists no longer have their commander. Hence, when the mayor speaks of "cutting off [the beast's] head," he is referring to General George Washington. The beast is the revolutionaries, while the beast's head, meaning the beast's commander, is General George Washington.