What is the difference between a servant and a slave, and how does this relate to Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson?
Peter Wood, a professor of history at Duke University, was asked this very same question. His answer has always surprised me because I always assumed that the difference between a servant and a slave was that a servant could legally choose to quit, while a slave could not do that. Wood's description of the difference between slaves and servants is quite interesting.
A servant could be a white person or black person. Skin color doesn't make a difference. The defining feature of a servant is that he or she is under contract to work for a certain number of years. When the contract time runs out, that person is free to leave and seek out another contract if desired. What I find interesting about Wood's response is that he says owners occasionally treated their servants worse than their slaves because the owner knew that he/she had the servant for a limited time. In essence, the servant was the equivalent of a rental, while the slave was actual property and needed to be taken care of.
In Isabel's situation though, Isabel was treated much more poorly as a slave than Becky was treated as a servant.