What mood does the Chains have when the barrel is kicked away?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The barrel that the question is asking about is found in chapter 18.  It is the barrel that Thomas Hickey is standing on moments before he is hanged.  Hickey is sentenced to death by hanging for his attempted assassination of General George Washington.  

The mood of the chapter builds and builds with tension.  It's a great chapter.  Anderson takes multiple pages describing the swells and actions of the crowd.   

The crowd had recovered its voice and was screaming vile curses.  Cabbages, rotten apples, and a dead cat were thrown in the direction of the traitor.  

Those moments are punctuated with descriptions of the ever increasing drum beats. 

The drums beat faster. My heart sped up to match the rhythm.  

The drums, crowd, and tension build to the breaking point.  At that moment, the drums suddenly stop.  The crowd falls silent, and the hangman kicks the barrel away.  Isabel and Ruth cover their eyes, and the crowd gasps.  

The mood of the chapter is interesting.  The reader is definitely propelled forward with a sense of excitement because of the actions of the crowd; however, that excitement is tempered with another feeling.  That feeling is disgust.  It's sad to watch the "good guy" Americans be so bloodthirsty.  The mob is behaving in a way that is directly counter to the Christian values that most of them openly claim.  By time the chapter ends, I feel that Anderson has been able to effectively convey an overall mood of guilt to readers.  

 

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Chains

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