What are the themes of "Belle Prater's Boy"?

Expert Answers
bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several themes in this story. I think the most important one is the friendship between Gypsy and Woodrow. Closely connected and as a result of this theme is the coming-of-age theme. As a result of their friendship, Gypsy and Woodrow mature, developing a greater understanding of them-selves and others. Woodrow is suffering from suddenly losing his mother, and Gypsy must deal with her nightmares and the memory of her father's suicide. Gypsy learns from Woodrow's warm, sympathetic nature and changes how she looks at other people's outward features. Gypsy gives Woodrow the support and comfort he needs to deal with his loss.

Another important theme deals with appearances. Gypsy's beauty is immediately evident to everyone, but she feels her looks are all anyone ever notices about her. Woodrow's outward appearance is the opposite of Gypsy's, but his humor and caring nature become more important to anyone who knows him. Grandpa says to Gypsy, "[I]t's only what's in the heart that counts." This theme is also seen with Gypsy's father who committs suicide when his face is disfigured and with Blind Benny.

There are other themes mentioned at the eNotes link below and a full explanation of each.