Summary and Analysis: Chapter 15
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 504
Captain Samuel Talcott: the Wethersfield citizen who leads—and calms—the crowd going to see Governor Andros, the new royal governor.
Governor Edmond Andros: the new royal governor.
This chapter opens on an angry argument: Matthew Wood and a number of men, including William Ashby, are in the company room discussing what they should do about the colony’s future. The women work in the next room, wondering what is going on. When Kit asks what William is doing there, Judith informs her that William has changed his mind and now agrees with Matthew about protecting the colony’s rights. Judith also remarks at how little Kit seems to listen to William.
Just then the voices from the company room become audible again. The men argue for another hour but do not reach a conclusion. When William comes out, Rachel asks what difference a change in the charter would really make. William brushes her position away, saying that women only think about their own homes but that the colony’s rights are real and desperately important. Later, when Kit and Judith talk before bed, Kit is concerned that the men do not understand the might of the king, which she glimpsed in Barbados.
The people of Wethersfield, though, get a chance to see for themselves when armed forces march into the town in uniform. Despite some noise before the soldiers get there and some mild gestures after they and their horses have passed, the colonists are respectful. The Wood household is depressed that night, at least until William Ashby shows up. He summarizes the meeting where the charter was discussed and shares shocking news. After the discussion had gone on for some time, a draft blew out the candles and the room went dark. When the candles were relit, the charter had disappeared. The governor stayed calm, did not ask about it, and instead read a statement annexing Connecticut to Massachusetts. When Matthew asks about the charter, all William will say is that it is safe. When the girls are back in bed, Kit jokingly suggests that the charter vanished because it is All Hallows Eve and a witch must have taken it. Judith dismisses this suggestion and says that she could tell William knows where the charter is. As she drifts off to sleep, Kit realizes she is proud of William.
As the political situation worsens, it puts different pressure on the various characters. Rather than simply accepting the political situation given him, William has changed his position, indicating on the political level that simple pragmatism is becoming less functional and less possible. On the personal level, he is moving from passivity to action, and even to a kind of heroism as he helps steal and hide the charter, protecting the colony symbolically. As the characters realize their need to take a stand, the difference in gender roles is further highlighted: the women focus on the social and the domestic; the men focus on the political, conceptual, and symbolic.