Out of the Dust

by Karen Hesse

Start Free Trial

What happens when Billie Jo plays Ma’s piano again?

Expert Answers

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

Billie Jo's decision to begin playing Ma's piano again represents her growth and evolution as a human being who has been touched by tragedy. After the deaths of Ma and Franklin, Billie Jo avoids playing Ma's piano as it would be far too painful for her: physically painful because of the burn scars on her hands and emotionally painful because it serves as a reminder of Ma's absence. The piano collects dust, and Billie Jo only plays at school (on a piano that is not Ma's) so that no one will accuse her of playing like a cripple. The piano is Billie Jo's "silent mother."

When Billie Jo chooses to start "getting to know the music again," she is asserting her ability to move past the death of her mother and to carry on with a productive life. She acknowledges:

...what I am,

I am because of the dust.

And what I am is good enough.

Even for me.

Billie Jo is prepared to ride out the dust storms and to stop trying to run away from her home, her past, and herself. By playing half an hour a day and "stretching" her scars, Billie Jo is refusing to give up her hopes and dreams. This emotional growth also makes room for a new mother figure in Billie Jo's life: Louise, Daddy's new love, who does her best to be a patient listener and support system for Billie Jo. 

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