In The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Momma makes the children wear many layers of clothes to school in the winter—true or false?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It is true. In chapter four, “Froze-Up Southern Folks,” the narrator states that his mother, originally from the warm climate of Alabama, thought the cold winters in Flint had the potential to “kill you in a flash.” To keep them warm and alive, she made the narrator and his sister wear a huge number of layers, including t-shirts, jackets, coats, and a pair of snow pants so big that they needed a pair of suspenders to keep them up.

The narrator states that it was particularly embarrassing to wear all those layers to school. The other children would not only tease them for it, but the clothes would take ages to take off. The narrator would even have to help his younger sister to undress. She was so hot underneath it all that he would have to wipe her sweat away with a towel.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is true. Momma makes the children wear many layers of clothes in winter because she is from Alabama and is still shocked by the cold winters in Flint, Michigan, where she is raising her family. Mrs. Watson is so concerned about the cold that she buys each of the children two pairs of warm, fur-lined gloves each winter, even though the family doesn't have much money. 

Joey, the youngest Watson sibling, complains about the many layers of clothes that Momma makes her wear, so Byron tells her a story to make her wear them without whining. He tells her that Momma is trying to protect her from dying in the cold and that the garbage trucks that come around early in the morning hours are actually being used to pick up dead, frozen people. After hearing this, Joey is terrified and wears Momma's many layers without issue.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial