Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 22

By M.T. Anderson

Part 3, Chapter 22

  • That same evening, Goring writes another letter to his sister (he just can t stay away from pen and paper).
  • Because he's depressed by all the bloodshed in town, Goring goes and finds Octavian and drags him to supper.
  • He gets Octavian to bring his violin back to Goring's camp, where they intend to party down a little and drown their sorrows.
  • Everyone's depressed.
  • They're most scared of the inevitability of it all—the screaming, the ranks of Redcoats with their uniforms and bayonets, their slow approach and relentless stabbing.
  • Mr. Symes starts talking about last summer, when the Brits marched into a noisy, cheering crowd.
  • The Brits hung their heads for whatever crimes they committed, and the people decided that they would administer their own Justice, without the help of people selected by some distant English ruler.
  • Feeling inspired, Goring rises up too and starts talking about what they're fighting for—and it's a huge list. They're fighting for: the beauty of New England; the hills and forests; the fields and valleys and ponds; the rocks and coasts; the seasons; his cooperage; the clabber girls with their skirts tucked in for work; the threshers; the apple orchards; the birds; the friendly insects (yeah—even the insects); their haunted woods; the lakes; the coves; the barns; the groves; and a thousand things more (Goring can talk).
  • Finally he cries out to the men and Octavian: Doesn't even New England snow look good enough to eat?
  • It's a good thing Prince (or Octavian, we mean) cuts in. He tells Goring that sometimes sorrow is best expressed through silence (and we couldn't agree more).
  • Goring gets it and feels grateful Octavian stops him; it's a serious bonding moment for them.
  • Then Octavian gets up and starts playing his violin.
  • The men sing and dance, while Octavian plays whatever they ask him to play; he even invents songs on the spot.
  • They sing about every little thing around them (just imagine Goring's long speech set to a bunch of different tunes).
  • Isn't this all worth dying for? Goring asks.
  • He thinks so.

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