Out of the Dust by Karen Hasse Course Education 410 Teaching Reading in Middle Schools Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Journal Reflections on a Dust Bowl Tale

Out of the Dust -- the Depression in Adolescent Poetry

It is difficult to think of this work as too dark for young individuals, even middle school children, because of its emotional truth and absence of sensationalism. It is written in the poetic voice of an articulate young women about concerns many young people face in real life, namely that of death of a loved one, guilt, and also coping with physical accidents. Moreover, the death of Billie Joe's mother is not gratuitous, or merely a death for sensationalism's sake. The book shows the effects death of a young person's main maternal figure upon a family and a great historical economic crisis, that of the looming Great Depression in the Dust Bowl of Midwestern America. The historical context of the novel gives an added importance and weight to the mother's death and the family's suffering, as individual readers learn about how the Depression affected family life as well as simply the sorrow the protagonist feels after the death of her mother. Thus, from a historical perspective as well as a personal and psychological perspective, the work's darkness is justified. It uses a potential point of 'dark' association to draw individuals into the world of the poem cycle. Potentially bereaved individuals in the classroom can also take comfort in the fact that they are not alone, that children all through American history have lost loved ones and survived.

Question 2

Billie Joe is immature at the beginning of the poem cycle, despite the eloquence of her words in conveying to the reader, with spare and vivid free verse, the relationship between different family members. After being forced to assume greater emotional and practical responsibilities after her mother's death, and losing her ability to play music, she begins to understand what has happened and take on the significance of her mother's death and the larger phenomenon of the Dust Bowl, as it affects other families over the…

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Work Cited

Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic 1997.

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