Study Guide

Eliza in Fever, 1793

By Laurie Halse Anderson


Eliza is free a black woman who works at Matilda's family's coffeehouse. She's an excellent cook, and one of Matilda's best friends. Eliza lost her husband many years ago, though she is still close with her brother Joseph and his twin sons, Robert and William. Eliza is tirelessly dedicated to serving the Free African Society, a charitable organization founded by Reverend Richard Allen. Eliza and her family shelter Mattie and Nell during the fever epidemic, and at the end of the novel, Mattie asks Eliza to be her business partner at the coffeehouse. In this sense, Eliza is not only Mattie's friend, she is her equal.