Symbolism in Chains: Analyzing the Novel 8th Grade

Bees making a commotion in somebody's brain, a bright red hat, and a water pump in New York City. There seems to be no connection between those objects, but they all in fact have something in common; they are all symbols in the book Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson. In that novel, Isabel and Curzon, two slaves in New York, are ready to escape slavery after being tormented by their cruel masters. But during their path to escape, they encounter symbolism that help them recognize their inner thoughts and feelings. Symbolism provide a richer meaning to a story and gives the reader an idea of events beyond the ordinary using the bees, Curzon’s hat, and the Tea Water Pump, among the most powerful images in Chains.

Isabel’s mood and feelings shift rapidly as shown symbolically with the bees that surround her. First of all, the bees don't only show anger and confusion, they can also show that Isabel is refreshed. When she thought of joining the British: “The thought washed over [her] like a river, sweeping away the dead bees that filled my brain pan with confusion.”(174) The river sweeping away her dead bees mean that her confusion is swept away by the thought of joining the British, meaning that she is rapidly changing her mood from...

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