What items did Bud carry in his suitcase in "Bud, Not Buddy" and why were they important?

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Bud’s suitcase contains a pack of flyers. These sit at the very bottom of the suitcase. The flyers are advertisements for various performances of the jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. They are important to Bud because he strongly suspects that the musician is his father, whom he has never met. He particularly treasures one of the flyers that is blue in color, because it reminds him of his mother’s last days before her death. She had come back home from work with the blue flyer and had looked at it continuously. Clearly, she had found something in the flyer quite upsetting.

At the top of the suitcase sits Bud’s blanket. He likes to put it at the very top, folded, so that it can cover everything else and prevent the various items from “banging against each other.” The blanket is useful to Bud because it keeps him warm in his sleep, especially when he is on the run. Inside, there also is an “old tobacco bag,” which contains his favorite rocks that were given to him by his mother. Bud knows the exact number of rocks in that bag (there are five). Also, there is an envelope that contains a picture of his mother. He keeps it because it is “the only picture of his mother that exists in the world.” He also keeps the picture because it reminds him of some conversations that he had with his mother when she was alive. She liked to tell him the story of how she got to take that particular picture. The picture features his mother riding a “midget horse.”

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The contents of the suitcase were the only possessions that Bud had, symbolic representations of family and home. Even though his life had been uncertain, having been moved to four foster homes in his short lifespan, the contents of his suitcase remained constant. Therefore, he treasured them and guarded them with his life. The items were as follows:

  1. Fliers: Bud has five fliers with concert details. These are symbolic of his future because they contain clues on the whereabouts of Herman E. Calloway, a jazz player who Bud believes to be his father.
  2. A collection of rocks: The five rocks have writings on them, and he keeps them in a tobacco pouch. His mother treasured them and gave them to him before she passed on. He, therefore, values them greatly.
  3. A blanket: He carries this for warmth and comfort because he believes that nobody can be certain about where they will end up sleeping.
  4. A picture of his mother: It is the only one he has of her, and it reminds him of her love for him.
  5. An extra pair of clothes: This is important because it is the only extra pair that Bud possesses.
  6. A jackknife: For protection.
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Bud carries around several important items in his suitcase throughout the novel. These items are significant to Bud because they remind him of his mother who passed away when he was six, and he believes they are clues that will lead him to his biological father. Bud carries around five flyers that depict Herman E. Calloway, a famous musician, and his band performing at various locations. Bud believes that Herman E. Calloway is his biological father. Bud also carries around a picture of his mother wearing a gigantic cowboy hat, while she is sitting on a small horse. Bud keeps this photo of his mother in an envelope and recalls why she looks so sad in the photo. Bud also keeps five rocks that belonged to his mother in a brown tobacco bag. These rocks have locations and dates written on them. The rocks come from places where Herman E. Calloway has performed. At the end of the novel, Bud learns that Herman's daughter asked him to bring back a rock when he went to play a concert out of town one day. Ever since, Herman has collected a rock at each place that he plays. Bud uses these items to guide him to Grands Rapids where he meets his grandfather, Herman E. Calloway.

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