Out of the Dust

by Karen Hesse

Start Free Trial

In Out of the Dust, how does Billie Joe's participation in the talent show affect her relationship with her father?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Billie Jo's father gains a new respect for his daughter after he sees her compete in the talent show. Billie Jo says,

"It's okay with him if I want to play.

He didn't even know I was at the piano again till the other night.

He's making some kind of effort to get on better with me now,

Since I 'did him proud' at the Palace" (March 1935).

After the tragedy in which Billie Jo's mother was killed, her father becomes withdrawn and uncommunicative. Billie Jo says,

"He stares at me, maybe he is looking for Ma.

He won't find her" (January 1935).

Billie Jo has demons of her own to overcome, memories of the accident that killed her mother and scarred her own hands so dreadfully. With great determination, she works through the pain and learns to play the piano again, and succeeds well enough to enter the talent show and win third place. She does this all on her own, without her father's help or support; when she finally tells her father about the show, he says he will come once chores are done, and he does. Billlie Jo's father is present to accept her third place award with her, as her hands are shaking too much to hold the ribbon and the dollar which is her prize (February 1935). Afterwards, their relationship changes for the better, as Billie Jo's father, impressed with his daughter's courage and gumption, makes a greater effort to be present to her and interact with her.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial