What is the historical significance of Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson?

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Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson gives us a very clear understanding of the clash between the Patriots and the Tories in New York City between 1776 and 1777. In addition, it gives us several clear pictures of the life of an enslaved person at this time, in several settings. The...

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Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson gives us a very clear understanding of the clash between the Patriots and the Tories in New York City between 1776 and 1777. In addition, it gives us several clear pictures of the life of an enslaved person at this time, in several settings. The main character, Isabel, is owned by Miss Mary Finch, who is apparently kind and generous to her slaves. When Miss Finch dies, Isabel and her sister, Ruth, should be set free, as stated in Finch's will. However, Finch's nephew, her heir, is not a kind man, and he only sees Isabel and Ruth as property worth money. He ignores their right to be freed. Isabel and Ruth are then owned by a Loyalist and his wife who live in New York City. Anne Lockton is a cruel and greedy woman, mainly interested in her status in society. The Locktons are sure that the British will prevail and the rebels will be crushed. Anne sees Isabel as a personal threat, so she is especially cruel to her. She tells Isabel that she has sold Ruth to a physician who lives on the island of Nevis, news which crushes Isabel. At another time, Anne has Isabel branded on her cheek with an "I" for "insolent." Isabel, throughout, remains stoic and true to the rebel cause, which she sees as her best route to freedom. She passes critical messages for them and risks her life to care for Curzon, another slave who works for the rebels.

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In short, the historical significance of Chains is that it is a piece of historical fiction (and a young adult novel) about slavery before and during the American Revolution.  The story focuses on the protagonist, Isabel, who is often caught between slavery and freedom.  The promise of freedom falls through when her older mistress dies.  Isabel and her sister, Ruth, are sold to abusive, Loyalist owners.  We learn about loyal Patriots through Curzon (another slave willing to fight for the Rebel Army) and witness the Battle of Fort Washington through his eyes.  The novel allows readers to see the tension before the American Revolution from a slave's viewpoint.  Many aspects of loyal devotion can be seen throughout the book.  Slaves are loyal or disloyal to their masters.  Isabel is loyal to her sibling, Ruth.  Curzon is loyal to Isabel and to the Patriot cause.  Loyalists are loyal to Britain.  Patriots are loyal to justice (and to the Rebel Army).  Therefore, loyalty is a main theme.  

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