Discussion Topic

The significance and thematic connection of the King George Statue in Chains


The King George statue in Chains symbolizes British oppression and the American colonists' desire for freedom. Its destruction represents the breaking away from British rule and the quest for independence, reflecting the novel’s themes of liberation and resistance against tyranny.

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In Chains, what theme connects with the King George Statue and how?

The King George statue plays a prominent role in chapter 20. This chapter has the Patriots celebrating their newly declared independence from Great Britain. Part of their celebrating ends up toppling over the King George statue and chopping it to bits.

The statue is symbolic of Great Britain's overbearing rule of the colonies, and it ties into themes that focus on government oppression, rebellion, and freedom. It is a statue of the king, who is the leader of a country; therefore, the statue of the king not only represents the king himself but all of Great Britain.

The statue is also "gold," which represents wealth and power, and Isabel specifically notes that the statue looked impressive in sunlight, yet it looked very different on a cloudy day. This is important to note because it alerts readers to the idea that the king and his power are awesome to behold when everything is going well; however, that inspiring image doesn't hold up against the metaphorical cloud that is the rebellion.

Ultimately, it turns out that the statue isn't actually made of gold. It is lead covered in gold "gilt." Gold is powerful and valuable. Painted lead is a cheap imitation, and that is how the Patriots view the king. He is much weaker than he would like people to believe, and the Patriots believe that they can gain freedom and topple the king and his oppressive rule in the same way that they can topple his statue.

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What is the deeper meaning of the King George Statue in Chains?

In the midst of the war for control of New York, Isabel starts doing the marketing because Becky has fallen seriously ill. One day while she is out shopping, she hears a commotion coming from the area around City Hall. When she arrives there, she realizes that the new country has been proclaimed: “the Congress had declared independence,” and throughout the streets, men are cheering, dancing, and marching. The news emboldens them to shout at the British troops in the ships across the river.

The meaning of King George’s statue varies widely, depending on the loyalties of the particular characters. For the loyalists, it was important to have a constant reminder of their king’s rightful authority and his power. For the patriots, however, the statue reminded them of the many injustices that affected them. The huge statue was the personification of the inequalities of colonialism as much as it was a portrait of a human being or even a king.

As Isabel observes the huge statue that the men are surrounding, she comments on the immense height of the pedestal on which the statue—showing the king as a rider on a horse—is mounted, as high as three men. Not only are they unnaturally large, which Isabel adjudges “the way of kings,” but both are covered in gold. The collective efforts of the men with ropes who pull the statue down represent the united forces that will prevail in the revolution. Even though they are much smaller than the statue, their combined efforts are strong enough to bring it down. As they chop it to bits, everyone can see that the gold was only on the outside; the statue is ordinary lead—just as the king is just another man.

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