Chains

By: Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains Summary

Chains is set during the Revolutionary War, and is the story of a teenage slave, Isabel, and her fight for freedom. Isabel and her sister, Ruth, are traded and moved from their home in Rhode Island after their master dies. The girls are taken to New York City to work for the Lockton's, British merchants. Working for the Lockton's was miserable, and Isabel's world is turned upside down. She realizes that she needs to get out of there, and the rest of the story tells about her journey working as a slave and spy for the Patriots. At the end of the book, Isabel finds her own "River Jordan" and escapes to New Jersey, gaining her freedom.

Who is Isabel?

Isabel Is...

Three words that describe Isabel are:


  • Brave
  • Loyal
  • Smart


Isabel is brave. She demonstrates strength and courage throughout the book. For example, when Madam Lockton sells her sister, Isabel fights back. She knew that doing so would be bad for her, but she resists anyway. Her actions get her thrown in jail and gets her branded with the letter "I" for Insolence. She bravely faced her punishment. She also demonstrated courage when the city caught on fire. Isabel saved Lady Seymore from her burning house. pg. 189-192


Isabel is loyal, and the type of person I would want to call a friend. She always cared for and protected her family and friends, regardless of what might happen to her. Her sister Ruth was a small child with Epilepsy, and after their mom and master both died, her dad was sold, and they were sent to New York, Isabel knew that she had to take care of her. When Ruth laughed at their new master as she was being searched, Isabel took the blame and got slapped across the face.


  • "No one had ever slapped my faced like that, not once in my whole life. Better me than Ruth. Better me than Ruth." pg. 31- 32


Isabel is smart. She was able to keep her work as a spy a secret (from the Locktons anyways) , always developing plans to sneak out of the house and deliver messages. She had great, but risky, ideas. When she was making her escape from New York, she developed a great plan to rescue Curzon from prison. By pretending to clean the cells, she convinced the guards that he was dead, and she wheeled him right out of the jail under their noses. pg. 293

A Picture of Isabel

In my mind I see Isabel as a tall, thin girl, with deep, brown eyes. Her body looks like most other starved and mistreated slaves. Her teeth may be missing or broken. Her cheeks may be sunken in, and her hair is probably a matted mess. The branding scars on her face make her look deformed and scary, but if you can look deep into her eyes, you will see her unbroken passion and spirit shine through. The scars on her face are a symbol of her fight for freedom. After she created the fake pass to leave the Lockton's house, she looked in the mirror at her scars and recognized that they were not something to be embarrassed about. The scars made her a survivor. They made her strong. She thought, "This is my country mark. It made me strong."

If Isabel Went on Vacation She Would Pack:

Project By: Ava Grace Blackburn

Thank you for reading my characterization poster.