Fever, 1793
Fever, 1793
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever, 1793 Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Mortality

For whom does the bell toll? Well, dear reader, the bell tolls for you. Whether the line is spoken by Metallica, Ernest Hemingway, or the poet John Donne, all of them agree that some day, somewhere...

Suffering

As we find out in Fever, 1793, people can suffer in so many ways: physically, yes, but also emotionally. The pain of yellow fever completely transforms Matilda's body. She becomes pale and gaunt, t...

Family

What defines a family? Fever, 1793 is a book that would very much like to know. Matilda Cook begins the novel with a pretty small family: it's just her, her mother, and her grandfather. Her grandfa...

Visions of America

For Matilda Cook, the star of Fever, 1793, "America" means a very specific place: Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the city of her birth, and the city she very much loves. It's a regular m...

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Matilda Cook is a dreamer, just like that darn Jean-Pierre Blanchard she keeps mentioning (1.28). (You know, the guy who floated into the sky in a big yellow hot air balloon?) Like the visionary Bl...

Women and Femininity

What are the avenues offered to women in Philadelphia in 1793? Before the fever, Matilda's family assumes that she will find a nice young man like Edward Ogilvie and marry him. This, after all, is...

Foreignness and the 'Other'

Early on in Fever, 1793, rumors spread that it's the refugees who are responsible for the fever in Philadelphia. While many fleeing from Santo Domingo (now Haiti) were indeed carrying the virus, th...

Memory and the Past

Fever, 1793 is a historical novel, so it's no surprise that this is a book that has a hankering for the past. This applies to both personal history and the kind of History that gets a capital "H" t...

Transformations

When Fever, 1793 begins, fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is a teenager from head to toe. This means that her life is made up of a series of changes, transformations, and metamorphoses. She's going th...

Science

If there's one thing we learn from Fever, 1793 it's that science isn't an exact science. Debates about the cause of the fever and its proper treatment rage through the hospitals and coffeehouses of...

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