Out of the Dust

by Karen Hesse

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Why is the title "Met" important to the poem in Out of the Dust?

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The title “Met” is appropriate for this poem in Out of the Dust because it is about a series of meetings. Billie Jo's father meets her at the station, and they truly meet each other for the first time since her mother's death. Billie Jo has also met herself and knows where she belongs. She and her father meet in agreement about his need to call the doctor and about the pond. Finally, Billie Jo meets forgiveness.

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The poem “Met” in Karen Hesse's poetic novel Out of the Dust is appropriately titled, for the poem is all about meetings that have now taken place.

The poem appears toward the end of the novel. Billie Jo has run away from home, thinking that she will escape the dust and her pain by going west. She learns, however, that she cannot escape herself, so she goes back. Her father meets her at the train station. Billie Jo calls him “Daddy / for the first time since Ma died.” It is like they are meeting anew and seeing each other for the first time.

As they walk home, Billie Jo tells her father how she wanted to get out of the dust but realized that she can't get out of herself. She cannot grow anywhere else. She is planted in her home like the wheat is planted in the sod. She finally knows where she belongs. Billie Jo has met herself for the first time. She now realizes who she is and that she can flourish “with a little care” and “with a little luck.”

Billie Jo is honest with her father, too, about how scared she is to see the spots on his skin. She can tell that he, too, is scared. She also tells him that she cannot parent herself, and she doesn't know what she will do if her father leaves her, too. Her father agrees to call the doctor. Once again, they meet together where before they had been far apart.

Billie Jo's father tells her that the pond is complete, and that they can swim in it and catch fish there after it fills up. Billie Jo can even plant flowers if she wants. Again, they meet together in companionship, sharing the accomplishment they will enjoy together.

As they walk along, Billie Jo realizes that she has begun the process of forgiving both her father and herself. They have met with tragedy and pain. Now Billie Jo meets forgiveness and love.

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