Describe Betty's role in the story "The Best of Betty" by Jincy Willett.

1 Answer | Add Yours

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"The Best of Betty" is found in Jincy Willett's collection of short stories Jenny and the Jaws of Life. The stories combine tales of women, men, and children facing life and growth (both physical and emotional).

The short story "The Best of Betty" offers readers a collection of "Dear Abby" fashioned letters where Betty (the "Abby") answers the questions of different people writing in. Therefore, Betty's role is two-fold. First, in regards to the story itself, Betty acts as the omnipotent possessor of knowledge. She is offers answers to essentially all. On the other hand, Betty allows readers a different point of view than they may be expecting. As Betty answers questions, she also attaches morals and another way of looking at life.

For example, when one woman asks Betty about "The Change," she offers the mundane answer of seeking help from a doctor/counselor, keeping busy, not thinking about it, and a warning about whining. While Betty's answer offers some harsh, but honest, reality, she does not stop there. Instead, she tells "Hopeless in the Heartland" (the author of the question) to take a much more positive look at life, focus on the good things, and rewrite the letter to her.

Therefore, Betty's role in the story is that of humorist, educator, guide, confidant, friend, and truth-teller. Given the anonymous nature of both questioner and Betty, the truth does not need to be masked for fear of alienation or hurting one's feelings. Betty is simply allowed to tell it like she believes it to be.

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question