Name: Chains Study Guide Questions Part 1 Chapter 1 What is the

Chains Study Guide Questions
Part 1
Chapter 1
1. What is the setting at the beginning of the novel? May 1776, Newport Rhode Island, cemetary
2. From what point of view is the story told? How do you know? Identify the narrator. 1st Person, I, we, me, Isabel
3. Who is Miss Mary Finch and what has happened to her? Isabel and Ruth’s owner, she has died.
4. Why does Isabel ask Pastor Weeks if she can run ahead of the wagon carrying Miss Mary Finch? What happens?
Why does this upset Isabel? She wants to go talk to her mother’s ghost at her grave. Her mother doesn’t show
up and Isabel thinks she may have buried her wrong.
5. How does Mr. Robert treat Isabel? Why? Mr. Robert is harsh with Isabel. She is a slave.
6. Which sentence is a simile that describes one of Mr. Robert’s features? “Mr. Robert’s mouth tightened like a
rope pulled taut.”
Chapter 2
1. Why does Isabel ask Pastor Weeks if he knows of a place where she and Ruth can sleep? They are supposed to
be freed.
2. How do Isabel and Ruth become the property of Mr. Robert? How does that affect Isabel? Robert is Finch’s only
living relative. The girls will not be set free.
3. How does Isabel’s ability to read work against her? Slaves are not supposed to be able to read, so Robert thinks
she is lying.
4. What are Mr. Robert’s plans for Isabel and her sister? Take them to Newport and sell them.
5. Why does Pastor Weeks tell Mr. Roberts that Isabel and Ruth will fetch a better price with their shoes and
blankets? He wants to make sure that they are allowed to go back and get some of their belongings because he
loves them.
6. What incident does Isabel recall when she realizes that she and Ruth are to be sold? How does she compare
herself to her father? What literary device does Anderson use to compare Isabel to her father? She remembers
the day that they were sold. She uses a simile to compare herself to her father. Her father is a lion and Isabel is
a kitten.
Chapter 3
1. Mr. Robert tells Isabel that she can only take their shoes and blankets because nothing else belongs to them.
What does Isabel decide to take as a reminder of home? She takes seeds that her mother had saved.
2. Isabel states that she doesn’t know if her mother’s seeds will grow or what they might become. What might the
seeds symbolize? The unknown
3. Why does Mr. Robert take Isabel and Ruth to Sullivan’s Tavern? How is Mr. Robert’s business proposition
received by the proprietors of the establishment? To sell them. The owners of the tavern tell him that they will
not be selling people on his steps.
4. Describe the difference between Mr. Robert’s treatment of Ruth and Isabel and the tavern owners’ treatment of
the girls. Mr. Robert is mean and the tavern owners actually feed the girls and are polite.
5. What does Isabel discover about Jenny’s connection to her past? Jenny knew their mother.
6. According to Jenny, what skill has Isabel always possessed? Why might such a skill be important to the narration
of the novel? She says that she has always been able to remember things well. Since the novel is written in first
person, it is important for her to remember to be able to tell the story.
7. What request does Isabel make of Jenny? How does Jenny respond? She wants Jenny to buy them. She says she
8. Why does Mr. Lockton ask Mr. Robert about his loyalty to the King? He wants to know what side he is on before
he will do business with him.
9. Why does Jenny offer to buy Ruth and Isabel? Why is this unusual? She doesn’t want the girls to be mistreated.
She is not a wealthy woman and used to be an indentured servant herself.
10. What is the outcome of the bidding? How will this affect Ruth and Isabel? The Lockton’s bid more than Jenny
can afford, so the girls will be property of the Locktons.
Chapter 4
1. How do the Locktons, Isabel, and Ruth travel from Newport to New York? Describe Isabel and Ruth’s living
conditions while traveling. They travel by ship. They are below deck with the cattle and goods.
2. What is Isabel’s mental state while sitting on the deck of the Hartshorn? What does the reader learn about
Isabel’s own beliefs and the history of her people? She is very depressed but hopeful. She believes that the
ghosts of her ancestors will help them.
Chapter 5
1. Describe and explain Ruth’s and Isabel’s reactions when they emerge from the ship in New York. The girls are
shocked and surprised by all the people and activity.
2. Why does the soldier stop the sailors from loading Madam Lockton’s walnut chest onto the carriage? What is
Madam Lockton’s reaction? All cargo must be inspected. Madam throws a fit because they are her personal
3. When Charles arrives at the dock, he is clearly upset and tells the Locktons that they shouldn’t have come back.
How does this affect the tone of the scene? What does it imply with regard to the Locktons? He suggests that
they could get into trouble and that there is more to the Locktons than we know.
4. How does the introduction of Mr. Bellingham alter Lockton’s previous claims regarding allegiance to the King?
What is Mr. Bellinham’s major concern? Lockton had said he was loyal to the King. Now he is saying he is a
Patriot. Bellingham’s only concern is the war.
5. Why does Madam Lockton threaten to remain perched on her chest at the dock? She says that no soldier has
the right to look through a woman’s belongings.
6. How do Ruth’ and Isabel’s reaction to Madam Lockton’s behavior alter the stand-off over the chest? The giggles
turn the soldiers’ attention and Madam is able to load her chest without inspection.
7. Who is Curzon? What does he offer to do for Isabel? Bellingham’s slave. He offers to take her to the water
Chapter 6
1. Curzon runs ahead of Isabel, causing her to lose her temper. Why does Isabel apologize to Curzon for being
rude? She realizes that she needs him in order to get back to Ruth.
2. What nickname does Curzon assign to Isabel? Country
3. What stop does Curzon make on the way to retrieve water? What does Curzon do that shows his character?He
stops at a stationer’s shop and comes out with rolls for Isabel. He is a good person.
4. What political ideas does Curzon share with Isabel on their walk? What is Isabel’s reaction? Loyalist vs. Patriots
Isabel says she only cares about herself and Ruth.
5. What favor does Curzon ask of Isabel? What could this do to help Isabel and Ruth? What are Isabel’s main
concerns? He wants her to be a spy, and Isabel has enough to do already.
6. Why does Isabel tell Curzon that she cannot help? She doesn’t want to get in trouble.
Chapter 7
1. Characterize Becky Berry. She is a middle-aged servant who is irritated that the Locktons came back without
2. What does Isabel learn from Becky about her new life with the Locktons? She realizes that she will not be able to
watch Ruth all day.
3. As Isabel begins to prepare the house with Becky, what does she learn about the politics of servants and slaves?
How does Isabel’s skillful memory lead her to challenge Becky? How does Becky respond when Isabel challenges
her statement of Lockton’s politics? Servants and slave believe whatever the owners believe. She remembers
that Lockton told different stories about his politics. Becky tells her not to concern herself with politics.
4. Who is Lady Clarissa Seymour? Why do the Lockton’s treat her like the queen? Lady Seymour is Lockton’s aunt.
She has money and they want to make sure they get it when she dies.
5. What advice does Becky offer Isabel before departing on her errands? She tells her to keep moving.
Chapter 8
1. What does Isabel do with the cobwebs that she gathers during her chores? What insight does this offer into
both the science and the social structure of the time period? She keeps them under her pallet for medical
treatments. It suggests that they were not advanced in medical treatments.
2. How does Isabel’s behavior indicate her understanding of her role in the Lockton home? She is always wary and
careful around the Locktons because she realizes that she is not quite human to them.
3. Why has Madam Lockton decided to use Ruth as a personal maid? She is tiny and quiet and she feels that it will
boost her social standing.
4. When Isabel becomes horrified and outraged that Ruth will be treated as a curiosity, Becky warns Isabel to hold
her anger and take care. Why? She knows that Madam has been harsh and abusive to slaves in the past.
5. What might the final line of this chapter foreshadow? Isabel may take Curzon up on his offer to be a spy.
Chapter 9
1. While vaguely aware of what is going on around her, Isabel is lost in her thoughts when sharpening the knives.
What are her thoughts? What might the knives symbolize? She is thinking about the knives becoming sharp and
strong. They symbolize her strength.
2. Why is Isabel summoned to the parlor? How does Isabel handle herself when she sees that Ruth has been
crying? Lady Seymour wants to see her. She has to control herself, so that Madam doesn’t see her anger.
3. How does Madam Lockton further strip Isabel of her identity during the meeting with Lady Seymour?
She changes her name to Sal Lockton
4. What is the significance of Anderson’s placement of the whetstone rhyme at the end of the scene in the parlor?
How has Anderson constructed the characters and conflict in the novel to make this doubly significant at this
point in the novel? The rhyme sounds like a threat from Isabel to Madam.
5. While serving the men in Mr. Lockton’s library, what catches Isabel’s attention? The men are talking about the
6. When Isabel returns to the library with more food, what does she see and hear through the crack in the door?
She sees Master Lockton with a bunch of money to get people to be Loyalists.
7. How does the last line of the chapter contribute to your interest in the plot of the novel? Explain.
Chapter 10
1. How does Ruth respond when Isabel asks why she was crying in the parlor? What does Isabel conclude from
Ruth’s response? Ruth starts to cry, and Isabel assumes that she has been abused in some way.
2. Why does Isabel decide to report what she has learned about the linen chest to Curzon? How does the reader
know that Isabel has given her plan careful consideration? She thinks it is the only way to keep Ruth safe. She
talks about how much trouble she would be in if she got caught.
3. What happens when Isabel reaches Bellingham’s building? No one answers at first, and she is afraid she is at the
wrong place.
4. After Isabel tells Curzon everything she has seen and heard, he tells her to go home and not to let anyone know
she is an informant. Why does this frighten Isabel? She is afraid that Lockton will know she told.
Chapter 11
1. Why do Isabel and Becky have a difficult day? Madam is in a bad mood.
2. Who arrives while Isabel and Becky are preparing the drawing room on the second floor. What is the purpose of
their visit? How is this used against Mr. Lockton? Bellingham is there to find any lead there may be in the
house. It gives them a chance to search for the money.
3. What is the result of Belligham’s search of the house? What happened to Mr. Lockton? They find nothing, and
Lockton is arrested.
4. How do you think Isabel feels as she witnesses these events? Explain your answer. She is afraid that she is going
to get in trouble, but she is also excited because she thinks she will be freed.
Chapter 12
1. Why does Isabel go to Lady Seymour’s home? Describe the girl who answers the door. She goes to fetch Lady
Seymour. A pale woman who speaks nothing but Dutch answers the door.
2. How does Lady Seymour respond to the news of Master Lockton’s arrest? She is not surprised and starts making
arrangements to have him released.
3. What surprises Isabel about Lady Seymour’s behavior toward her in the kitchen? Lady Seymour is concerned
about Isabel’s well-being.
Chapter 13
1. Who arrives at the Locktons’ home the next morning? What can the reader infer about his appearance? Master
Lockton comes in looking like he had a bad night.
2. Provide an example from chapter 13 that would support the statement that Isabel is a scapegoat in the novel.
Madam blames her bruises on Isabel instead of Master Lockton.
3. What is Isabel’s favorite part of her day? Why? Her walk to the pump is her favorite part of the day because she
has peace and can talk to Curzon.
4. Why does Curzon call the pump operator “Grandfather?” What might the name represent? They call him
Grandfather because he is older and wise. It represents a sense of community or family among the slaves.
5. Isabel does not understand why Mr. Lockton is not in jail and she has not been set free. What does she learn
from Curzon? She has to be patient and eventually Lockton will get arrested again.
6. Why does Isabel take the book from the library? What is the name of the book? Why might Anderson have
chosen this book for Isabel to read? She is feeling reckless so she steals the book to read it. Robinson Crusoe is
about a man who has to depend on himself like Isabel.
7. How does Isabel feel when she plants her mother’s seeds? She is comforted thinking of a better time.
Chapter 14
1. Why does Madam instruct Isabel to serve Master Lockton and his companions when he has given strict orders
not to be disturbed? Madam wants to meet the Mayor.
2. How does Master Lockton react to the interruption? Why do you believe Master Lockton is being so secretive
about this meeting? He reminds Madam that he didn’t want to be disturbed, kicks her out, but allows Isabel to
stay. He is doing something illegal.
3. How does the conversation in Master Lockton’s library highlight the differences between Isabel’s social status
and the Locktons’ social status? Isabel is worried about freedom and the men are worried about money.
4. The men in the library compare the rebellion to a vine. Do you feel the comparison is an appropriate one?
Explain your answer. Vines can’t grow if they are cut. OR Vines will always grow back.
5. What shocking plan does the mayor propose? How does Lockton respond? Kill Washington. At first he says no,
but then says ok.
6. How does Isabel demonstrate her cleverness at the end of the chapter? She pretends to be asleep which
indicates that she wasn’t paying any attention to the men.
7. What causes Isabel to drop the bottle of wine at the end of the chapter? She hears a scream from the kitchen.
Chapter 15
1. What does Madam believe is the cause of Ruth’s seizure? How does Master’s reaction to the situation compare
to Madam’s? The devil. Madam is screaming and Master is calm.
2. Do you think Isabel is reassured by Becky’s words at the end of the chapter? Explain. Becky doesn’t even seem
convinced that Ruth won’t be sold.
Chapter 16
1. Isabel believes that the only way she can protect Ruth is to get her out of the city and away from Madam
Lockton. What does Isabel decide to do? Why? She is going to take the list of Loyalists to the army in hopes of
being set free.
2. What is Colonel Regan’s response when Isabel offers evidence identifying the traitors in exchange for safe
passage for her and Ruth to Rhode Island? He tells her that he will look into her case if her evidence is proven
3. How do Colonel Regan and his men react to the list of names? Colonel Regan thinks it is good information, but
the men think it’s a lie.
4. Why is Isabel to return the list to Master Lockton’s desk? Regan told her to put it back, so Lockton won’t suspect
anything amiss.
5. What does Colonel Regan ask Isabel to do, and what does he agree to do in return? He asks her to continue to
spy and he will help her.
Chapter 17
1. Describe Isabel’s state of mind over the next two days. Explain the meaning of Isabel’s comparison of her
torment to “bees darting in and out of my sight, daring me to swat at them.” Isabel is afraid to leave Ruth alone.
The bees are dangerous; her thoughts are dangerous; everything around her and in her life is dangerous.
2. Who arrives at the Locktons’ kitchen door? Why? Describe how the visitor’s appearance indicates his state of
mind. Goldbuttons comes to warn Lockton that their plan has been discovered. He is trying to hide his
appearance, so he must be scared of being arrested.
3. Why do the Locktons argue? What is the result? She is upset that he is leaving her behind. He shoves her into a
4. In what manner does Lockton depart? Why? He mails himself in a cheese crate, so it can remain a secret that he
5. Why does Isabel offer to fetch Lady Seymour after Lockton’s departure? What happens? She wants to go tell the
rebels that Lockton escaped. Madam says no one can leave.
6. What news does Becky share with Madam Lockton regarding Master Lockton and the discovery of the Loyalist
plot? A man named Hickey gave up the plot, and Lockton got away safely.
Chapter 18
1. What event does Becky encourage Isabel to attend? Why does Isabel decide to go? She goes to the hanging in
hopes that Regan will free her there.
2. What is the atmosphere of the hanging? To what event does Isabel compare the hanging? Isabel compares the
hanging to a fair or carnival.
3. Isabel is surprised when Curzon approaches her in the crowd gathered to witness the hanging. What interesting
detail does Isabel discover when Curzon tosses her his hat? There is a label inside his hat that says James. She
wonders if that’s his name.
4. What is the central question Isabel has for Curzon? How does Curzon respond? She wants to know if she will be
freed and Curzon tells her to be patient.
Chapter 19
1. How might Isabel’s description of her experience in the Anglican Church affect your understanding of the
“separation of church and state” as outlined in the Constitution? Explain.
2. What news does a young boy bring to the church before the service ends? The British troops have arrived in the
3. How might the author use the episode of Ruth’s seizure in this chapter to contrast Lady Seymour’s character
with Madam Lockton’s character? Lady Seymour is worried about Ruth’s health whereas Madam is worried
about her being able to do her chores.
4. Why is Isabel’s comparison of Ruth’s most recent fit to a rain shower, rather than a thunderstorm, an
appropriate metaphor? It is a small seizure.
5. Why does Isabel have to do the laundry? The washer women have left town.
Chapter 20
1. Describe the change in Madam Lockton since the British ships have entered the harbor. How does the change
affect Isabel? She is having mood swings, so Isabel isn’t sure how to act.
2. Becky becomes sick with a mild case of ague, so Isabel makes the daily trips to the market to obtain food. Why is
she unable to contact Curzon or Colonel Regan? Curzon is busy, and she is afraid that Madam will find out if she
talks to Regan.
3. What historic news arrives in New York ten days after the British troops’ arrival? Congress has declared
independence from Britain.
4. Why do the cheering men march down Broadway to the Bowling Green? The rebels are pulling down a statue of
the king.
5. Why is the plan to make leaden bullets from the statue ironic? The rebels are going to shoot the loyalist with
their king.
6. How has Madam’s attitude toward Isabel and Ruth changed after her visit with the Reverend’s wife? How does
Becky explain the sudden change in her behavior? Based on Madam’s previous behavior and attitude, is Becky’s
explanation believable? She is being nice to the girls. She makes them cookies, calls Isabel Sal instead of girl, and
gives her the night off. Becky tells her it is because Madam thinks she will be punished by God if she doesn’t
7. What literary device is used in the last line of the chapter: “For that, I shall never forgive myself”? Explain.
Foreshadowing- something bad is going to happen while she is sleeping.
Chapter 21
1. How might the epigraph and Isabel’s dream that open chapter 21 strengthen the foreshadowing and suspense
that concludes chapter 20? The epigraph is a flyer for a slave auction.
2. Why does Isabel become frightened when she looks for Ruth? She can’t find her.
3. Fearing the worst, Isabel goes to Becky and asks what happened to Ruth. What does Becky tell Isabel and why
does it terrify Isabel? How does Becky try to comfort Isabel? Becky tells Isabel that Madam sold Ruth to a family
in the West Indies. Her mother was treated terribly in the West Indies, so she is afraid that Ruth will die. She
says that it was a doctor, so Ruth will be well cared for.
4. What happens when Isabel confronts Madam Lockton? Madam throws a painting at Isabel.
5. How does Becky help Isabel? Becky opens the front door and tells Isabel to run.
6. Why does Isabel turn herself over to the rebels? She feels like it is their turn to help her.
7. What is ironic about Colonel Regan’s statement that he cannot help Isabel because “even during time of war, we
must follow the rules of propriety and civilization”? Slavery is uncivilized.
8. What is Isabel’s final attempt at freedom? Is she successful? What happens? She tries to escape out a window
and doesn’t make it.
9. Do you think Madam Lockton would have sold Ruth if Master Lockton had been home? Why/why not? No.
Master Lockton seemed concerned about the girls more than as property. He wouldn’t have allowed it.
Chapter 22
1. What is Isabel’s physical condition and mental state when she awakens? She has been beaten and dragged.
2. Where is Isabel taken to await trial? Describe the living conditions. She is taken to a dungeon with crazy people
and rotten food, mud floors, and inmate fights.
3. Why is Isabel unable to defend herself in court? Madam lies about what happened.
4. During the trial, the attorney reminds the judge that they no longer live in a colony, but a state, due to
“independence and all that”. Why might that statement seem inappropriate at Isabel’s trial? She doesn’t have
5. Isabel is found guilty. What is her punishment? What is unusual about the punishment and how it is selected?
She is to be branded with an “I” on her face. Madam decided on the punishment, not the judge.
Chapter 23
1. Use three words or phrases to describe the scene in which Isabel is branded.
2. How is Isabel comforted after being branded? The ghosts of her mother and father are there to cool her.
Chapter 24
1. Describe Isabel’s surroundings and thoughts when she awakens after suffering and hallucinating for days. She
thinks she has died or is dreaming because the room and bed are clean and soft. It isn’t a dungeon but an attic.
2. Where is Isabel, and why? Is this surprising to you? Isabel is at Lady Seymour’s house because Lady Seymour was
angry about what Madam had done to Isabel.
3. What is Isabel’s first question regarding Ruth? What does Lady Seymour’s response indicate about her concern
for Isabel and Ruth? She wants to know who bought Ruth. Lady Seymour doesn’t know but did try to find out.
Madam doesn’t care if Isabel ever sees Ruth again.
4. What will happen to Isabel now that she has recovered? Why? She has to go back to the Locktons because there
is nothing Lady Seymour can do to stop it.
5. Why do you think the author chose to have a character like Angelika serve Isabel in the novel? It shows the
difference between Madam Lockton’s and Lady Seymour’s views on slavery.
6. When Isabel and Lady Seymour reach the Lockton residence, how to they enter? Why is this significant? Lady
Seymour goes in through the front door, but sends Isabel around to the back door. As much as Lady Seymour likes
and cares about Isabel, she won’t break the rules for her.
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