Chains Questions and Answers
by Laurie Halse Anderson

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What is the theme of the book Chains?

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There are a number of themes in Chains, but one of the most important is the necessity of having goals and sticking to them. Isabel's primary goal is to achieve freedom, and everything she does in the book is geared towards that end. And yet she faces seemingly insurmountable hurdles in her quest for freedom. As a young slave girl, she's pretty much on the bottom rung of colonial society's ladder. Many adults in her position would find it hard, if not impossible, to chart a course to freedom.

But not Isabel. She's absolutely determined to achieve her goals come what may. She even has the remarkable ability to turn negatives into positives. Through fear and intimidation, Madame Lockton tries to cow Isabel into submission. But instead of letting Madame Lockton walk all over her, Isabel becomes ever more courageous and defiant.

An allied theme in the story is that change only comes about when people are prepared to take a stand. Far too many people in the colonial society of Isabel's day either support slavery or don't support it but think there's nothing much they can do about it. By standing up to oppression Isabel shows the way forward. Evil has to be confronted and fought, come what may.

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