Why is chapter 17 of Bud Not Buddy so important?

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Chapter 17 is important because this is when Bud begins to feel like he belongs. Bud is cleaning as the band sets up, and he’s pretending he’s in Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea , which is how he remembers the title of the book he says his mother used...

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Chapter 17 is important because this is when Bud begins to feel like he belongs. Bud is cleaning as the band sets up, and he’s pretending he’s in Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea, which is how he remembers the title of the book he says his mother used to read to him. He says:

"It was a piece of cake! The bucket even had a thing on top of it that you could use to wring the mop out, and Herman E. Calloway didn’t even know how much fun I was having."

Working hard makes Bud feel like he deserves to be there, like he’s contributing just like one of the band members. He wants Herman to be proud of him, to see that he is strong and tough and should stay.

And then the band begins to play, and Bud is transfixed. It isn’t just music to him, it’s so much more than that, and when Steady Eddie starts to play, Herman says:

"He put his ax in his mouth and blew, but instead of the horn making music it seemed like Steady made it talk.”

Herman, Miss Thomas and Mr. Jimmy come up and Miss Thomas lets Bud know he did a great job cleaning and Mr. Jimmy agrees, calling him LaBone, his band nickname, further proving that he’s one of them. Herman grunts, which demonstrates his acceptance.

The three of them walk on stage and Bud becomes lost in their music, it resonates with him in a way that makes sense once you know he’s Herman’s grandson.

“The last thing you could hear was the rain from the Thug and the thunder from Herman E. Calloway getting farther and farther away, like the storm had gone and blowed itself over into the next county.”

This symbolizes that the storm of Bud’s life is moving on, blowing away into the distance.



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It is amazing to me that chapter 17 can be described as important.  It is an important chapter, but it always shocks me how important it can be with how very little stuff actually happens in the chapter.  The story starts off with Bud cleaning tables and mopping floors.  He turns it into a sort of game in order for the work to not be monotonous.  The members slowly file in and begin to play their instruments in an informal jam session.  They are all impressed with Bud's hard work, and Bud is equally impressed by their playing.  That's it.  That's the entire chapter. 

But lack of action doesn't mean a text can't be pivotal.  Chapter 17 is important because it marks a change in attitudes for Bud and Herman. Until chapter 17, Bud has never really experienced music before.  He's so mesmerized by it that he can't find the words to express himself.  The chapter is important because it transforms many of Bud's preconceived notions about music and Herman. Additionally, the chapter transforms how the band views Bud.  

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