Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 2, Chapter 24

By M.T. Anderson

Part 2, Chapter 24

  • The party is like a microcosm of the world.
  • The Young Men play card games; servants stand waiting for orders; Mr. Gitney's in the lab, giving talks on what they discovered in their observations of the Transit of Venus.
  • The women sit in the parlor, gabbing with each other and with Cassiopeia (though some of the women ignore her).
  • Mr. Goff, the painter, goes around offering to paint portraits of the women before smallpox settles in and possibly permanently marks their faces.
  • Aina, the cook, discovers there's another slave from Benin, where she is also from, so they get along famously.
  • There are also all sorts of romantic intrigue, including a love triangle between Mr. Goff, a lady, and her husband.
  • At night they hold dances, with Octavian on the violin, an indentured Irishman on fiddle, and a slave from another house on the flageolet (kind of like a flute).
  • Around the dancing guests are all these signs of danger: objects that can produce as much electricity as lightning; skeletons; dead animals.
  • And at the top of the stairs, three Young Men wait with lots of guns.
  • Octavian doesn't know why they're there, though he does notice though that they stand watch over whatever's going on outside the house, including the servants in the yard.

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