The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 9 Summary
by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Chapter 9 Summary

On Sunday, Kenny again gets up early, and he finds his father in the Brown Bomber listening to records on the Ultra Glide. Kenny joins him, and after they sit companionably through "a couple of jive songs," Kenny asks Dad if Byron really has to go to Alabama. After thinking for a minute, Dad tells Kenny that though they will all miss Byron, he has some important things to learn, and despite all that Momma and Dad have done in an effort to guide him, Byron is not progressing in the right direction. Dad asks Kenny if he remembers some of the things he has seen on the news about events going on in the South right now, and Kenny recalls seeing "really mad White people...screaming and giving dirty finger signs to some little Negro kids who were trying to go to school." Dad tells Kenny that it is a tough and hostile world that Byron will soon have to face and that he will need to be ready. Dad hopes that by spending time down South, Byron will not only get "an idea of the kind of place the world can be" but he will also be away from the temptations that he cannot seem to escape in Flint.

Later, Joey and Kenny are playing in the living room when their neighbor Mrs. Davidson comes over. Having heard that the Watsons are leaving for a while, she has brought a gift for Joey so Joey will not forget about her. Joey carefully opens the gift and discovers an angel made of white clay with "big wings and a halo made out of straw." Joey is a little disturbed when Mrs. Davidson tells her that the angel looks like her, but she is polite and thanks the woman kindly. When Mrs. Davidson has gone, Momma goes upstairs to talk to her little girl. She tells Joey that she is proud of her behavior and asks her what is wrong. Joey is troubled that the angel reminds Mrs. Davidson of her; in Joey's estimation, it doesn't look like her at all because it is white. Momma gently tells Joey to keep the angel and suggests that she might get to like it someday, but Joey hides it in a drawer under her socks.

Everyone has been busy getting ready for the upcoming trip except Byron. On the night before they are scheduled to leave, Momma and Dad tell Byron that he will be sleeping in their room that night. Joey, in an attempt to keep her brother out of trouble, has told their parents that Byron is planning to run away to Buphead's house so he will not have to go to Alabama; now...

(The entire section is 688 words.)