Out of the Dust
Throughout the dust bowl in the 1930’s it was difficult to make a house into a home for some families. These times brought financial hardships forcing many people to move and head to California in hopes of finding a better life. While reading “Out of the Dust” by Karen Hesse you find that family was the most important aspect of life during the Dust Bowl. Throughout the book you read how a young girl develops her sense of belonging through tragic events showing her the real meaning of family. As a young girl growing up the Dust Bowl became very influential in her understanding of life and how difficult things can be. Another particular point in the book where a terrible accident claims the life of her mother shapes her life and contributes to other decisions Billie Jo, the young girl, makes. Through these decisions and her perceptions of home life Billie Jo decides to run away from the one place she knew as home and away from the dust before she became dust and find a better life out in the world. These events become the major milestones of the book.
... the book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the author Harriet Jacobs (also the main character in book), paints ... people that got hurt the most were the young children, both white and black. It was so ... learn the cause. They are attended by the young slave girls whom their father has corrupted; and they ... Talking about sex to a female that is so young is criminally wrong, but the master was trying ...
The Dust Bowl is a natural phenomenon that was not created over night and has been the result of previous years. The farmers had been helping out with World War II and in doing so have over planted crops in the fields. Due to the nature of the situation the farmer had not begun rotating crops or leaving native grass areas in order to use them later for fertile grounds. This caused the grounds to no longer produce crops the way they had done so in the beginning. By the early 1930’s the Great Depression had hit the country causing a severe drought throughout the land. The primary area that was affected by this was the Great Plains states, from the Rocky Mountains eastward to the high plains. (Montana) The dust bowl made it hard for farmers to have a healthy relationship with their families with the worries of how they were going to care for their crops. With no rain coming down the dirt that the farmers had put on top of the soil was beginning to turn into dust and sail away in the wind. With no wind blocks of any sort like trees and crops the wind was able to blow carelessly and freely among the farms and drift the dirt off the newly planted seeds leaving them exposed. As the seeds became exposed it was difficult to ensure their survival and keep them from blowing away in the winds as well. The farmer had to stand by and hope for the best within their crops. This was especially hard for Bayard in “Out of the Dust” due to him having such a connection with the soil he grew up around. Bayard was portrayed as a man who was unable to show his love and affection to his family. The main character, Billie Jo, only saw the connection between her mother and father when he would stand behind her mother and listen as she played the piano. Bayard would just get a look on his face and be lost in the music.
While reading the book you pick up on the fact that the main character is very close with her mother who has had a different upbringing than that of which Billie Jo is experiencing. It states that her mother had to change herself to fit her father. In knowing this fact you find that Billie Jo’s mother, Polly, loved to play her piano and taught her daughter to play as well. Billie Jo did not play as well as her mother due to her enjoying a more contemporary type of playing. Polly was a housewife that would spend her days cleaning the dust out of the house, knowing it was going to come right back in, and cooking for her family. She did not show much praise to her daughter and would often just tell her “I knew you could”. One day as Polly was making tea she picked up a pail sitting beside the stove thinking it was water and splashed it on the fire. The pail did not contain water but kerosene and engulfed the stove and her in flames. Billie Jo ran into the kitchen to help her mother as her mother ran outside to get Bayard. Billie Jo wanting to help picked up the pail and attempted to throw it out the front door, however at the exact moment Polly was running back inside the house. Now the flames covered Polly’s entire body.
... an introduction, where Lawrence explains how a mother plays the piano with her young son. The second stanza ... happier than Piano. The speaker in Piano is completely devastated that he has lost his mother and ... thirty-nine and Piano, both poets are nostalgic about losing a parent, One his mother, the other ... structures of the poems are quite different. Piano has three quatrains of rhyming couplets. It ...
Billie Jo tried feverishly to put the flames out by trying to smother the flames with a towel and her hands. By the time the fire was out her mother’s body had been badly burned all over as well as her own hands. (Ritch) This leaves Billie Jo feeling as though the accident and eventually Polly’s death was her fault. Bayard was the one who carelessly left the pail of kerosene beside the stove but it was Billie Jo who threw it on her mother. Her mother at the time of her death had been giving birth to a baby boy whom Billie Jo named Franklin after the president. Billie Jo and her father did not speak much or spend much time together after her mother’s death. They just went through the motions of everyday life. This made Billie Jo feel empty inside. She longed to have her mother back who she had a connection with and that made the family a whole. Billie Jo had taken over her mother’s duties and did not do them with the gratitude and conciseness that her mother had. She felt that it never mattered to her father anyway. Billie Jo was able to come and go as she pleased now which was different from when her mother was alive and would make her stay home to study or help around the house. Since the accident occurred Billie Jo also had a hard time playing the piano whether it was fully physical or partially physiological. Her mother was the piano player in the house and now Billie Jo often found herself sitting and staring at the old piano that belonged to her mother. Without the feeling of being wanted at home Billie Jo once again turns to her music to find comfort or a sense of belonging in the world. She tried to make her scarred hands move as they did before over the keys. With each stroke she felt a sharp pain and was unable to play like she had before. However, she did force herself to play the piano for a contest and played magnificently taking third place as her prize.
... amount of struggle possible. College life may be simplified having a time plan in which things should be ... and energy level. How can someone have a stress free life? Well, ... free college life. The other ideas that I mentioned earlier could assist with this like time management ... energy. Sleeping for the right amount of time always seems to help me stay refreshed and ...
Billie Jo had been fearful that her father would die from the malignant tumors growing on his face and skin leaving her all alone with the dust. Billie Jo knew that the spots on her father’s face were just like the ones on her grandfathers but did not want to talk about it to her father. Knowing that she could no longer enjoy playing the piano the way she used to and had a father that just went through the motions, Billie Jo found that she wanted to join in with the others and hop on a train to find her a better life. Billie Jo did not leave a note or anything behind for her father thinking he wouldn’t mind her being gone. Billie Jo jumped on a train with a sack full of stale biscuits she took from the house and the clothes on her back. Billie Jo is not sure of where she is going but she feels that anywhere is better than being at home with her father and empty life. She had very few people she considered her friends and even those had gone off to pursue a better life somewhere else. While riding on the train, Billie Jo meets an unusual character and they swap stories. The stranger tells her about having to leave his wife and kids to look for work to be able to provide for them and all he has with him is a photograph of his family.
He shows her the photograph as she shares a stale biscuit with him. The stranger asks for something to drink to go with the biscuit which she replies that she has nothing else to offer him. They discussed the stranger’s family and where they are living at then went to sleep. When Billie Jo awoke the next morning her sack of biscuits is gone but the picture of the family remains. (Amirante) It was through this conversation with the stranger and the picture that Billie Jo realized that she is running away from the one thing she wants the most out of life, her family. Billie Jo decides to return home to her father and also to return the photograph to the man’s family letting them know he is okay. Once Billie arrives home her father is happy to see her and she calls him Daddy for the first time since the accident. She is now ready to forgive her father and herself for the accident that occurred. (Amirante) Being back home Billie Jo talks to her father about the spots on his face and skin and asks him to go to the doctor to get them checked out because she does not want to lose him. Bayard agrees to go to the doctor. The doctor removes the spots from Bayard and commented on why it took Bayard so long to get the spots checked out.
... made her afraid and confused. Eventually my father found a foster family. They actually treated him like a ... is called to go to war. If my father's life ends in Vietnam, then my very existence ... soon devour her homeland. My father has had a difficult life. His father was a taxi driver and his ... the result could lead to automatic war. Millions of lives gone in seconds. March 14, 1962. Journey begins ...
They were all hopeful that by removing the spots Bayard would make a full recovery and not worry about the cancerous spots anymore. This pleased Billie Jo. Now Billie Jo finds that her father has taking companionship with another woman. This other woman was the teacher of the classes her father had started taking right before Billie Jo decided to disappear. The woman, Louise, was there for Bayard when he needed her and helped around his house in the absence of Billie Jo. Billie Jo began spending time with Louise and decided that she liked her but did not want her to take the place of her mother. When visiting the grave of her mother’s, Billie Jo would not allow Louise to tag along feeling it would be disrespectful. Finally realizing that Louise was not there to take the place of her mother Billie Jo began to connect with her and allowing her to be part of her life. This made it easier on her father to have his happiness again. Finally Billie Jo felt as though her mother would approve of Louise and allowed Louise to visit the grave with her and her father. Bayard finally married Louise with the approval of Billie Jo and they were once again a family.
Billie Jo was a young girl brought up in the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Being that she was so young the lifestyle the Dust Bowl brought influenced the young girl and helped shape her ideals of life. Billie Jo had learned through traumatic events that her life was better spent where she was trying to escape from. She learned that through the Dust Bowl people could survive with the right amount of loyalty and care for the land and each other. By losing her mother in a terrible accident, Billie Jo felt that she had also lost her father. She feared that they would both turn to dust like to ground outside. It was during this time that Billie Jo made the decision to try and make a better life for herself out west. She had jumped on a train to run away from it all when meeting a strange individual who reminded her of what really mattered and that was family. Billie Jo quickly made the decision to go back to her father and be supportive of him the way her mother had been. Billie Jo undergoes several personal transformations to make her the person she wanted to be all along.
... consisted of my mother, father, and my three brothers. My father was of German decent and my mother was of Irish ... from a strong Italian background. Both her mother and father were of both of heritage and this heritage ... my father. As long as I can remember, my mother would give up a pleasure in her life and ... to keep his ethnicity out of his life, my father retained many of the German traits of ...
Amirante, Tracie. Allreaders.com. 2010 18 Oct. 2010 .
Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997.
Montana, Sam. Facts About the Dust Bowl. 18 Oct. 2009. FactOids bit sized knowledge. 18 Oct. 2010 .
Ritch, Karen G. The College of Education. 2010 The University of Texas at Austin. 18 Oct. 2010 .