Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 10

By M.T. Anderson

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Part 3, Chapter 10

  • It's May 21, 1775, and Goring has another letter for his sister:
  • Goring can't stand all the waiting and the drills; he can't help but remember that they're going to battle soon.
  • Last night, the men were preparing and eating oysters for dinner.
  • Turns out, Mr. Wheeler can play the flute, so he plays some songs for them.
  • Goring turns to Octavian and asks him to play something—Octavian wants to know what he should play, so Goring tells him to play whatever pleasures him.
  • Octavian says that he doesn't experience pleasure, so Goring says to play Octavian's favorite.
  • But Octavian says all that classical European stuff won't be fun enough after those pleasant songs Mr. Wheeler played, at which point Goring gets impatient and tells Octavian to get out of his head and listen to his heart.
  • That doesn't work either because Octavian says his heart isn't simple.
  • Goring says that Octavian hasn't listened then.
  • But Octavian says he has listened to his heart and he can't understand what it's saying.
  • So Goring says he hasn't been hearing his Heart.
  • This makes Octavian bitter—he points out that the heart is simply a muscle that constricts, that he has seen a heart on a plate, jolted with electricity, and he can say that it's as much dead as it is alive.
  • Ouch.
  • Goring doesn't want to know more about Octavian's scary past and backs off about playing any more music.
  • Later that night, he sees Octavian sneak out of their tent into the dark.
  • He follows Octavian because he's worried Octavian's going to run away, but Octavian just goes down to the docks and looks out at the sea and the moon.
  • Goring puts his hand on Octavian's shoulder, and Octavian responds: "'God forgive me. Her name—I never knew her Name.'"
  • Goring doesn't know what Octavian means, but his heart breaks anyway.
  • At the end of the letter, Goring includes a cheesy, hand-drawn map complete with a tiny drawing of himself waving from Dulwich.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 10 Study Group

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