Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 2, Chapter 5

By M.T. Anderson

Part 2, Chapter 5

  • Octavian's not having fun studying anymore.
  • Who can blame him? Now he's forced to study dry, boring stuff, like excerpts of Latin and Greek texts.
  • He never gets a chance to read a whole text—Mr. Sharpe is strict about banning narratives from Octavian's study, so much so that Octavian can't even use the library because Mr. Sharpe says random reading will prejudice the results of their grand experiment with the boy.
  • But Octavian's surprisingly chill with the arrangement, mainly because he gets to train under Bono.
  • Yep—Mr. Sharpe wants Octavian to work as a servant too.
  • Bono teaches Octavian all sorts of things about the running of the house, and he also shows Octavian how to protect himself when he goes outside of the house to run errands by carrying a note that states Bono is the property of Mr. Gitney. This note will keep the guards from wondering why Octavian is running about.
  • Bono gives Octavian a lesson in reality when he points out that the note is what white men want black people to be—something that white men can own, can write on, keep in their pocket.
  • Octavian tries to counter Bono with the idea that men are known by their "deeds," but Bono's smart and quick himself, so he agrees and goes on to say that "deeds" are exactly what houses are known by—they're documents that show who owns what, who owns whom.

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