Why didn't Phyllisia go into Edith's house in the Rosa Guy novel The Friends?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Phyllisia's extreme guilt will not allow her to visit her old friend Edith Jackson initially in Rosa Guy's novel The Friends. Phyllisia's embarrassment over Edith's poor clothing and her extreme poverty keeps her from remaining friends with her after she leaves school. When Phyllisia finds out that Edith's brother, Randy, has been killed by police, she heads out to visit her old friend. But when she arrives

...I didn't go in. I could not. I stood... telling myself that Edith needed me...
    Instead, my fears worked on me. What if I went into that hallway and someone seized me, attacked me, raped me? What if someone caught me and injected dope in my arm and ruined me forever?

Instead, Phyllisia returns to the party. But later, after her father Calvin has decided to send her back home to the island, Phyllisia seeks out Edith again. She finds Edith all alone; her younger siblings have all been taken by authorities to an orphanage, and Edith is awaiting their arrival to take her there as well. Phyllisia and Edith reunite, and promise to stay in touch, despite the distance.

"...And wherever they send you, I'm going to come see you."
    "You really mean that, don't you, Phyl?... You really mean it?"
    "... I swear." I raised my right hand, too.