Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 18

By M.T. Anderson

Part 3, Chapter 18

  • Another letter to Shun, dated June 12, 1775—also from Cambridge:
  • Goring tells Shun that he appreciates the letter she sent him (finally).
  • The men are still waiting for orders to fight; they hear about all sorts of action on the islands nearby, but not much more than that.
  • The Brits are still in Boston, waiting for who knows what reason.
  • Meanwhile, the company goes through a lot of drills.
  • Octavian has been called to work with another group of men—other N****es and Irishmen—to build ditches and fortifications.
  • They've built up fortifications in Roxbury, all while keeping the Brits in sight.
  • The Brits, for some reason, are entrenched in the middle of the neck of Boston, which doesn't seem to be a good thing for them, for as Goring points out a city can't thrive when its neck is slit.
  • Goring sees Octavian occasionally during the day, and sometimes in the evenings Shem or Goring will steal Octavian away.
  • Goring really likes Octavian's company, probably because Octavian's the only one who will sit and listen to Goring sermonize.
  • They trade stories with each other too—Octavian tells him of Roman times, while he tells Octavian stories about his village, the cooperage, and the mill.
  • Octavian's a changed man now because he has a purpose.
  • Others may have their reasons for being—whether it's talking (like Goring) or their children or their spouses—but Octavian doesn't desire anything.
  • He goes from total sadness and joylessness to anger.
  • And it's this new anger that keeps Octavian digging those ditches, chopping those trees, and building those fortifications—he does all of this for freedom.
  • That's how they all spend their days.
  • Meanwhile, the city just sits there like a spider, without change.
  • That's the life of a soldier.

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