Toycie acts as an alter ego to Beka because she is everything that Beka is not. She is older and she is a good student. Beka is younger and must struggle with school. Toycie is an optimist and even Beka admits that she never even realized Toycie was poor because she had a way of seeing everything in her poverty-stricken life through the eyes of hope. Beka is analytical and assertive. She speaks her mind, sometimes without thinking first, and this gets her in trouble. Toycie, on the other hand, is sweet and everyone is always saying how cooperative and nice she is. Beka wants to be this way, but she cannot change her personality.
Toycie serves as a tragic example to Beka of what NOT to do with regard to sex. Both girls have been warned by the nuns (and Beka has been warned by her parents) not to fool around with boys if they don't want to wind up "with a baby instead of a diploma," but Toycie has no male influence in her life, so she is vulnerable to the advances of Emilio. Beka observes Toycie sneaking around with Emilio, and she instinctively knows that this is not right and, worse, it is dangerous. She tries to warn her friend, but Toycie will not listen. Beka learns a hard lesson from watching the tragic downfall of Toycie as Toycie is abandoned by Emilio, loses her education and loses her life. Beka vows that she will "never fall in love" and instead, thanks to Toycie's lesson, devotes herself to her school work so that she does not wind up with a menial job, "the washboard under the house" as Granny Ivy likes to refer to menial work.