Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 1, Chapter 18

By M.T. Anderson

Part 1, Chapter 18

  • One night, 09-01 and Octavian are walking along the wharf.
  • 09-01 teaches Octavian how to calculate the number of miles a man pulling rope on a ship walks backward in his lifetime.
  • They see a man who's been tarred and feathered, or at least, that's what Octavian eventually figures out (at first, the guy looked like some beast).
  • Who's the guy? It's John Withers, a Customs Inspector.
  • (Yep—it wasn't just slaves who got tarred and feathered back then.)
  • They witness Withers getting beaten and trying to protect his private parts.
  • This all leads Octavian to wonder why all of this is happening, which leads 09-01 to explain this whole beef Boston (and the other colonies) have with England over taxation.
  • But 09-01's explanation is actually more like a defense of England.
  • He points out that taxation is necessary if they want the colonies to be protected from French invasion or if they want to kill the Native Americans so that the colonies can expand westward—after all, it takes money to kill people.
  • One of the guys beating the Customs Inspector hears 09-01 and asks him what he's saying.
  • 09-01 lies and tells the guy that he was just speaking Greek to Octavian—about how Plato defines a man to be a featherless biped open to political philosophy.

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