Themes and Characters
Queenie Peavy depicts one young woman's turbulent transition from childhood to young adulthood. Most of the townspeople of Cotton Junction view Queenie Peavy as a defiant tomboy, an eighth-grader who chews tobacco and throws rocks. Apathetic and impulsive, Queenie remains in constant trouble with school and town authorities. Queenie's father is imprisoned in the state penitentiary in Atlanta, and Queenie lives with her mother on the outskirts of town. Sadness over her father's imprisonment and anger over the frequent taunting of neighborhood children drive Queenie to frequent violent outbursts. Priding herself on her deadly aim, Queenie throws rocks at birds, squirrels, and buildings. She plays a prank on the bully Cravey Mason that results in his breaking his leg. Despite this tough exterior, however, Queenie is a bright and kindhearted person. She excels in most of her classes when she is not being kicked out of them, and she delights in telling stories to or singing songs with the young children who live next door to her.
Martha Mullins, Queenie's best friend at school, is called Little Mother from a poor but proud family. Because Martha is so often responsible for the younger children in her family, she has developed many qualities traditionally associated with mothers. Sweet, polite, unselfish, and optimistic, she plays the role of peacemaker at home and at school, and is willing to sacrifice her own wants and needs for the sake of others. Too saintlike to be completely believable, Little Mother nonetheless teaches Queenie many lessons—including the difference between pride and foolish pride, and the value of restraint in the face of antagonism—which acquire an edge of realism when played out against Queenie's more fully developed character. Avis and Dover Corry, Queenie's playmates at home, live on the farm that neighbors the Peavy place. The Corrys own their land and are one of the few successful black farm families in Cotton Junction. Avis...
(The entire section is 490 words.)