Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 4, Chapter 4

By M.T. Anderson

Part 4, Chapter 4

  • Octavian's recalling a memory of Mr. 03-01 (or Mr. Gitney) teaching him about matter.
  • They're in the kitchen, and 03-01 holds up an egg.
  • He asks Octavian how he knows if the egg exists, and Octavian responds that it's because 03-01 is holding the egg.
  • This sets 03-01 up to go on about how the egg has solidity and form, and about how matter extends into space and how it also gives resistance.
  • He taps the egg's shell at this point.
  • Cassiopeia's there too; she says that the egg will offer up less resistance if it's with bacon.
  • And then, out of nowhere, 03-01 throws the egg—hard—right at Octavian's face.
  • The egg breaks and oozes down Octavian's face.
  • 03-01 goes on without any emotion and asks if the egg is a chicken now.
  • Octavian can only look down and shake his head; what he really wants to do is cry, but he knows he shouldn't.
  • 03-01, still in the middle of the lesson, goes on to explain that the egg has the substance of a chicken, but not the form.
  • (We wonder if there's a better way to teach that point, but anyway, moving on…)
  • Octavian wraps up the chapter with a summary of all the things these men taught him, like: substance and form, matter and its physical properties, shape and essence, the motion of light, how color is an illusion of the eye or in the perceiver's mind, and how color isn't real because it doesn't have a physical body.
  • Then this: The men imprisoned him in darkness, where there isn't color, but Octavian was still black and the men were still white—and because of that, the men bound and gagged him.

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