Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 655
The Ghost Belonged to Me is a first-person narrative relating the supernatural experiences of a young boy, Alexander Armsworth, and his quest to allow a sad ghost finally to lie with the rest of her family’s remains. The novel consists of twenty-two chapters that present an engaging story of life in a small town.
Alexander is initially informed of the ghost’s existence by his would-be girlfriend, Blossom Culp; her mother sees a halo of pink light around the Armsworth’s barn and tells her daughter that it signified the death of a young girl. Although tempted not to believe this incredible story, Alexander is persuaded to enter the loft where, instead of a ghostly girl, he finds Trixie, a half-drowned puppy with an injured leg. He provides it with food, water, and a place to sleep, and he plans to adopt it. The physical presence of the puppy at first seems to discredit Blossom’s story, but when Alexander later is unable to find Trixie anywhere, he accepts Blossom’s words as the truth. He soon discovers that Trixie is the spectral companion of the ghost of Inez Dumaine, a young woman who died in a steamboat accident and was laid to rest underneath a hitching post next to the Armsworth house.
As if dealing with ghosts were not enough, Alexander’s older sister, Lucille, is in the process of “coming out” into society as a debutante and is hoping to snare Tom Hackett, the scion of a wealthy pharmaceuticals magnate, for a husband. She and her mother organize a coming out party that they hope will announce their rising status in the community. This plan creates no end of trouble: Alexander’s great-uncle Miles gets on Luella’s already-strained nerves, and Tom Hackett has been pressuring Lucille to go further with him sexually than she would like to without formally becoming engaged. Alexander is dragged into the middle of preparations for the party, an affair that disgusts him only slightly less than his sister’s amorous interludes.
He finds some comfort, however, in helping his great-uncle Miles construct a pavilion for Lucille’s party. He confides the story of his ghostly friend to his great-uncle and is gratified when the old man believes him. Miles, a man who has strong connections with the past, not only believes the story but also vows to help Alexander comfort Inez. Getting the permission of the county coroner to excavate Inez’s makeshift grave, they find the poor girl’s bones and decide to return her to her hometown, New Orleans, for a proper burial. These plans are nearly halted when an unscrupulous reporter, Mortimer Brulatour, attempts to take the body away from them during the passage south.
Not to be left behind, Blossom Culp stows away on the train that Alexander and Miles take to New Orleans. She watches over the precious cargo, making sure that it reaches its destination safely. It is through her ingenuity (and her good spelling) that Brulatour is finally outwitted. Once in New Orleans, Miles presents his problem to a close female friend, the owner of a boarding house, and she agrees to help them sneak Inez’s body into her family graveyard. In addition, seeing poor Blossom’s patched dress and snagged black stockings, she takes the young girl under her wing and makes her up into a beauty that even a thirteen-year-old boy such as Alexander can appreciate. Blossom and Alexander are nearly in love themselves when they realize that Miles is seeing his girlfriend for personal reasons that match their own.
With the local help, Alexander, Miles, and Blossom are able to place Inez to rest among her ancestors and return home safely. Alexander has gotten to know his great-uncle only just in time: A few weeks after their triumphant return from New Orleans, the old man dies, leaving Alexander and Blossom to continue growing up alone.
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