Octavian Nothing The Pox Party
(Revolutionary Times) written in 2006
"And then they imprisoned me in darkness; and though there was no color there, I still was black, and they still were white; and for that, they bound and gagged me."
"It boots us nothing to feel rage for things that long ago transpired. We must curb our fury and allow sadness to diminish, and speak our stories with coolness and deliberation."
This lesson was taught to Octavian after his whipping and he learned about other injustices in the world--slavery and torture.
"A man is known by his deeds." - "Just like a house is known by its deeds. The deeds say who owns it, who sold it, and who'll be buying a new one when it gets knocked down."
This shows how people of the era viewed Africans and how little they meant in the grand scheme of things.
Like the American Revolution, Octavian's life was an uphill battle for hope, dignity, and freedom. Instead of being known because of his master (or the state of Great Britain) he wishes to be known for himself by his own name, thus beginning his own "revolution".
The main conflict in this novel is Octavian's fight for freedom. He attempts to solve this problem by running away but cannot be free because of the color of his skin. The people at the college later find him and bind him in shackles. He eventually solves this problem with the help of an academician named Dr. Trefusis who poisons Mr. Sharpe and another man who wish to contain Octavian. After they are poisoned, Dr. Trefusis and Octavian escape to another town to hide. This is Octavian's key to freedom, but will he remain free?
A major point in the novel is that the things that bind us eventually become us. Octavian even says that the shackles that held him became a part of him because they were there so long. If you are unwilling to fight against your chains, you become used to them and they will forever be a part of you. It takes a strong person to go against the "authority" that imprisons them, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Sometimes the prisoner is also the warden.
Why is this book interesting?
2) Lord Cheldthorpe's proposal to buy Octavian and his mother. What really makes this scene truly astonishing is Octavian's mother's reaction to Cheldthorpe's proposal. Instead of saying yes and celebrating she shouts at him and says she will not go unless she is free and they are married. Being a former African princess, she wants the respect due a princess of any nation and refuses to corrupt her royal line. She takes a stand for herself and all women, thus showing that women are not merely pawns for men to toy with and that they deserve respect and honor.
3) The death of Octavian's mother is an interesting turning point in the story because it is was finally drives him over the edge. She died from smallpox during the Pox Party for which the book is named. With her gone, he had no reason to stay at the college to be abused. He saw her death as a new beginning, one in which he was not an experiment; thus he ran. He left and was on his own. This was his first "lone wolf" experience without anyone making decisions for him or recording his every move.
4) When Dr. Trefusis poisoned Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Gitney. This was a plot twist to me that added last burst of excitement before the end. I knew Trefusis cared for Octavian but I did not think he would take any action. This act of heroism finally gave Octavian the sense of freedom he'd been after, but it left one question: why didn't Trefusis kill them? Why did only give them enough to render them unconscious?
History in the Novel
The Transit of Venus
In this novel, the academicians head off into the wilderness to observe the Transit of Venus where Venus is in perfect alignment with the earth and the sun. This is a historical event which happens twice every hundred years, give or take. The one they would have observed would be the one that happened in 1769.The Boston Tea Party
In this novel, Octavian and the academicians flee the city of Boston and go to a country house because of conflict in the city. One such event mentioned is the Boston Tea Party in which the Sons of Liberty dump English tea into the Boston harbor.
Siege of Boston
In this novel, Octavian was temporarily a part of the rebel army that fought the British in the American Revolution and the Battle of Bunker Hill. The militiamen of the US trapped the British army in the city of Boston after they gained control of the harbor.
This novel gave me a new perspective on the great Revolutionary war and I strongly recommend it to those who are into history and new perspectives.