Analysis

As Robert and Haven discuss history and religion while Solomon winds up the capstan, the picture of Haven's individuality and spirituality comes further into focus. Although the question turns out to be innocently referring to baseball, when Robert asks his father if he believes in all the Shaker Laws, Haven ducks the question by replying that he believes in most of them and is glad that they are all written down. He does believe strongly in the Shaker's shunning of frills and sternly squelches Robert's hopes of going to a baseball game.

Haven also proves that he is a man who understands himself and knows his flaws. He clearly does not regret being unable to vote, and the disrespect garnished on him by the people of Learning does not make him heartsick. He knows that his illiteracy is a flaw but understands that it makes him no less a man. He also makes it clear that he does not regret his poverty, for, as he teaches Robert, he is rich in the things that are more important than money.

Haven's speech about his "mission" in life is one of the most inspired in the book. Instead of viewing this as a submission to a life of painful drudgery, Haven's mission should be looked at as a noble dedication to his family and his beliefs. Though he hates killing pigs, Haven does it because in the long run, he and his family will be better for it. All he has to do is keep the job for one more year, and Robert will never have to kill a pig or do anything that he does not want to because the farm will be theirs, and they can be self sufficient.

To clear up Robert's confusion as to the answer to the question, "Which Vermonter played a key part in our history?" we note that Ethan Allen was a Revolutionary War hero from Vermont. The Green Mountain boys were the soldiers of the Vermont militia that fought under him. Abner Doubleday was a General in the Civil War who was later credited with the invention of baseball.

Also, a capstan is a large stake driven into the ground near the desired location. From the capstan, one rope goes to the cratch, and one to Solomon, who walks in large circles. This has the effect of winding the cratch rope around the stake and slowly dragging it toward the desired location. Haven's knowledge of this mechanical device is further evidence that though he is not literate, he is familiar with many physical and mechanical priniciples.