Laurie Halse Anderson's Character In Fever 1793

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Laurie Halse Anderson’s historical fiction novel, Fever 1793 takes place in Philadelphia in 1793, during the yellow fever epidemic. Mattie is the daughter of Lucille Cook, and is extremely lazy at first. As the story progresses, she becomes more mature and more responsible for her own needs, as well as others’ needs. By using description and character development, Anderson shows that putting others before yourself is an important thing in life to learn how to do, especially with lives on the line.
As an effect of the fever intruding on Philadelphia, many are sick, dying or dead. In Fever 1793, there are many instances where it is clear to see, that characters put others before themselves. For example, when Grandfather is not feeling his best,
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Laurie Halse Anderson uses character development and description to illustrate this. Anderson develops many characters in Fever 1793 to contribute to the author’s craft. Anderson wrote, ““Leave me!” Mother shouted in a ragged voice. “Leave me go!” I tried to help her back onto her pillows but she pushed me away and shook her head”” (69). This quote is showing growth with Mattie’s maturity since the beginning of the novel. It also is showing that even though Mother is violently ill, she wants Mattie to leave so she would not become infected, Mattie still stays with her mother for the night to help her through the awful sickness. Many people thought in 1793, the fever was contagious from person to person. We know today, that mosquitoes transmit the disease to humans, not human to human. Anderson also uses description to show how the characters put others before themselves. Anderson wrote, and Mattie says, “I don’t need all of this, Eliza. The boys should eat so they don’t get sick” (173) This shows that Mattie gave up some of her meal to feed to William and Robert, putting others’ needs before her own. It also shows how much she has matured and took on almost a motherly role to care for William, Robert, and Nell. Along with character development, these descriptions show just how much the characters cared about each other, even if they weren’t truly family, like Eliza,
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