Billie Jo

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The protagonist in the novel ‘Out of the dust’ by Karen Hesse, is a young girl, Billie Jo, and her life during the dust bowl of the 1930s. During this time period, Billie Jo’s life was turned upside down with all the hardships and challenges she had to face.

As her father was a wheat farmer, Billie Jo’s family relied on the crops as their source of income. However, when the drought reached Oklahoma, the soil and their crops dried out and died, which meant her father could not sell the wheat for money. “If Daddy gets five bushels to his acre, it’ll be a miracle.”

The Great Depression affected Billie Jo’s family a lot. “The banks closed, ‘cause they didn’t have enough cash to go around.” During the Depression banks could not give the money back to the people who had saved it. This ultimately left the family necessitous.

When her father leaves a pail of kerosene next to the stove, the pail sets on fire and then Billie Jo accidently throws a pail of burning kerosene over her heavily pregnant mother. “Billie Jo threw the pail, they said. An accident, they said. Under their words a finger pointed.”

This accident caused her own hands to be burnt. Her hands were very important to her as her only joy in life was really playing the piano. “The piano is some comfort in all this. I go to it and I forget the dust for hours.” The piano could make her escape reality and enter a world of her own, but with her burnt hands she could no longer play. It was sad, because it was one of her only comforts during this hard time. “I had swollen lumps for hands, they dripped a sickly pus, they swung stupidly from my wrists.”

Secondly, the accident also caused her mother to be burnt extremely badly. Her mother was also extremely pregnant, and about to have a baby. Unfortunately, her mother died giving birth to her baby brother, and this had a huge impact on her life. Her mother was a heroine figure in Billie Jo’s life, and she was the one who taught Billie Jo how to play...
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