Beka Lamb Questions and Answers
by Zee Edgell

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In Beka Lamb, in what chapter does Toycie die and how?  

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mindlessly wandering through the mangoes during the hurricane, Toycie is struck on the head by a mango tree that is uprooted by the storm and falls directly on Toycie, breaking her skull. The letter from Miss Eila telling of her death, addressed to Daddy Bill, Beka's father, arrives and is brought home to Beka in Chapter 24.

Beka, Granny Ivy, her mother and father, Lilla and Bill, along with twenty-five other people weather the storm in their house, with its safe (they hope) concrete foundation. Lilla awakens Beka, who fell asleep with her head in her mother's lap, to tell her the storm is over. Light-headed from the lamps' kerosene oil smell, she's stunned to see that so many people were safe from the storm and are now milling about in their home.

The work of clearing the debris of fallen trees and up-torn belongings begins. The work of trying to obtain clean drinking water and washing water from the hurricane muck carries on alongside the chores of cleaning the house up again, and the report comes in that Toycie's Sibun area was hit hard by the hurricane.

A muddy stench lingered in the air, and no matter how the Lambs cleaned and scrubbed and polished, it would not go away. All drinking water had to be boiled, and to get enough clean water to wash clothes was a problem. ... [The] storm was known to have devastated the Sibun area, and there was a sense of waiting in the house.

Days into the clean-up, the schools are still closed, and Daddy Bill comes home one day unexpectedly, hissing through his teeth the way he does when he has bad news to bear. The letter he has tells them all that Toycie is dead. Beka, her heart already "thudding in her chest" with a kind of foreknowledge, gives in to the "tidal wave" that crashed in "her brain" and screams and screams inconsolably. Miss Eila's short letter tells how a mango tree in the hurricane ended Toycie's life.

   'Dear Mr Bill, just these few lines to let you know that Toycie died the night of the heavy storm. She was buried this day instant. My Toy wandered away in the confusion of preparation and mango tree fall to break her skull. ... Ever your Miss Eila.'

Daddy Bill holds Beka tight to try to stay her hysteria. Granny comforts her and shocks her in turns to bring her back to her senses. But nothing changes Beka's screaming until Miss Boysie appears at the back door roundly scolding Beka for the mess that the bougainvillea stump has gotten into. This surprise, completely irrelevant scolding recalls Beka to herself.

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Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Toycie's death occurs in Chapter 24. In the chapter, the 'violent, whirling storm' has ceased, and the Lamb family are thankful to have been spared the worst of the hurricane's effects.

After the storm, families work to clear debris and fallen trees from the streets and yards. It is a grueling process, and everyone is exhausted by the effort. As the family waits for news about Miss Eila and Toycie, Daddy Bill brings back bad news. Miss Eila has written to inform everyone that her niece is dead; during the night of the storm, Toycie had ventured out alone and a mango tree had fallen on her, cracking her skull in the process. Miss Eila mentions that Toycie died on the very night of the storm itself and has been hurriedly buried. Beka is inconsolable, and both her father and Granny Ivy have a difficult time restraining the hysterical girl. However, Miss Boysie appears and surprisingly takes charge.

She tells Beka that her bougainvillea stump has sprouted and demands to know what Beka intends to do about it. The strange, forceful request immediately disarms Beka and restores some semblance of order to her emotions.

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