Out of the Dust

by Karen Hesse

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Why was the character Billie Jo in "Out of the Dust" named so?

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In Out of the Dust, Billie Jo is given a boy's name for a simple reason: her parents had believed that she was going to be a boy, and "Daddy" had desperately wanted a son.

Instead, Billie Jo is, "a redheaded, heckle-faced, narrow-hipped girl." Billie Jo says that Daddy, "tried making me do"; he attempts to adapt to having a daughter rather than a son by encouraging Billie Jo to handle what he can throw at her, including such traditionally masculine activities as riding on a tractor.

Although Daddy had given up on having an actual boy, he eventually gets another chance when Ma reveals that she is once again pregnant. This is exciting news as Daddy is the only Kelby boy left following the death of his father from skin cancer. A new Kelby son would mean that Daddy could pass down his legacy and family name. 

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