Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 9

By M.T. Anderson

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Part 3, Chapter 9

  • Another letter from Goring to his sis—the letter is dated May 18, 1775:
  • Goring's imagining that his sister is sitting in the cooperage (the family business is coopering—making wooden vessels, like barrels and casks), wood all around her, eating a big, fat mushroom.
  • Yes, that's his fantasy. We know—it's a little odd.
  • He tells her that they haven't heard much from Boston, except they can see Redcoats marching the streets and encamped in the Common; officers fishing off balconies; ladies rubbing ointment on their elbows—in other words, nothing newsy.
  • In camp, his life is all about drills and more drills, but at night they go to their mess hall and play or listen to music.
  • Octavian plays on his fiddle; he'll even play one of his classical pieces, but Goring thinks that's more for Octavian's ears than theirs.
  • Goring (once again) states that Shun would just melt if she knew Prince (or Octavian).
  • Goring imagines that Octavian must have suffered really badly because he's so gloomy all the time.
  • One day, he offers to take Octavian shopping for new clothes with the little money Octavian's made in the regiment.
  • Octavian really doesn't want to go, but Goring points out that Octavian's clothes—torn, dirty silk stockings, satin breeches, and fancy jacket—pretty much announce his runaway slave status.
  • Octavian can't compete with that logic, so they go buy some cheap, humble clothing, typical of a N****.
  • Octavian's still sad and silent.
  • In the evenings, Goring and Mr. Wheeler have to teach Octavian how to cook because he clearly doesn't know how.
  • The night before, they ate squab that Octavian cooked (badly—it was like eating a leather sandal).
  • Octavian stops chewing the squab at one point, so Goring tells him that if he chews, the food will go down better.
  • Octavian is silent, but finally he points out that they all eat the flesh of animals; therefore, their human bodies are burial grounds for those animals. (Budding vegan maybe?)
  • The other men around the mess are shocked and just gape at him.
  • Octavian takes the meat out of his mouth and leaves it on his plate; it looks like all life has left Octavian's body.
  • Poor Octavian.
  • Then Goring quotes a Psalmist, who basically says that when you're silent, your bones grow old all throughout the livelong day.
  • As Goring points out to his sister, that's definitely not his style.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 9 Study Group

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