Out of the Dust

by Karen Hesse

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How does "Out of the Dust" portray Billie Jo as emotional, musical, thoughtful, and caring?

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In Karen Hesse's novel "Out of The Dust, the narrator is Billie Joe Kelby.  She demonstrates many different qualities throughout the novel.  She is a very talented piano player.  She dreams and hopes that this talent will help her escape living in the area of the country known as the "dust bowl."  Before the fire she has a great shot of becoming a renowned entertainer.  Her thoughtfulness is demonstrated not only through her talent as a composer, arranger and musician, she is also an excellent student who makes good grades.  She helps other people and she is thoughtful in the way she expresses herself to others. 

Billie Joe can be very emotional.  In the novel her best friend has to move away and Billie Joe demostates how emotional she can become.  She is so upset and lonely over her best friend moving she doesn't think her life will ever be the same again.

Billie Joe's caring is demonstrated by the way she tries to care for her dying mother.  Even though she is directly responsible for the fire that kills her mother, her father is indirectly responsible because he takes the family's money, leaves kerosene by the stove in a bucket, and goes out to get drunk.  Billie really demonstrates her caring when she forgives her father for his part in her injuries and her mother's death.

"I am forgiving him, step by step,
for the pail of kerosene. As we walk
side by side,
in the sole-deep dust,
I am forgiving myself
for all the rest."

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