Identify key details of Isabel's flashback in chapter 38 of Chains. Explain the importance of the details.

The key details of the flashback are Isabel's mother at Christmas time, the bread pudding, and scripture reading, which all represent momentary flashes of hope for Isabel.

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In chapter thirty-eight, Isabel tells readers that according to tradition, she was supposed to have the day free from work. Isabel wonders what she might do with herself if she is actually given the time off. The thought of free time at Christmas causes Isabel to remember Christmas at home with her mother. Isabel tells us that she distinctly remembers eating her mother's bread pudding with maple syrup and nutmeg. She also remembers reading the Gospel of Matthew out loud while Ruth sat playing in their mother's lap.

These details are important because they are momentary pieces of happiness and hope for Isabel. She suffers through horror after horror from Madam Lockton, but Madam Lockton can't chain up and damage Isabel's soul. When Isabel first thinks of these things, they cause "foolish tears" to well up, and she tries to squash the memories. Later in the chapter, Isabel realizes that Madam Lockton only has power over Isabel if Isabel allows it. The thought gives her some courage and confidence. She decides to "keep Christmas," so Isabel cleans herself up, she bakes a batch of her mother's special maple syrup bread pudding, and she takes it to a needy family in Canvastown. The memories of her mother, the action of keeping Christmas, and Isabel's new attitude allow her to return home "feeling at peace."

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