Out of the Dust

Section 1: Beginning: August 1920 – Dionne Quintuplets

  1. ancient: belonging to the very distant past and no longer in existence
  2. drought: a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall
  3. feud: a prolonged or bitter quarrel or dispute
  4. fierce: having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness
  5. pester: trouble or annoy with frequent or persistent requests or interruptions
  6. ratchet: a bar or wheel with a set of angled teeth in which a cog engages and allows a motion in one direction only
  7. soured: having a rancid smell
Comprehension Questions
  1. Billie Jo says that Daddy got a long-legged, wide cheek-boned, redheaded, freckled girl instead of a boy. (pg. 3
  2. The wager between Mr. Noble and Mr. Romney as to who could kill the most rabbits began when both declared that the rabbits had done more damage on their crops than anywhere else in Cimarron County. (pg. 6)
  3. Billie Jo is able to get what she wants, especially to play the piano by asking permission when her mother is in the kitchen cooking, washing dishes, or baking and is just annoying enough to get a yes. (pg. 12)
  4. When the committee asks for donations Ma donates three jars of apple sauce, some cured pork and a feed sack nightie that was to be for the new baby. (pg. 16)
  5. When Daddy says, “ The potatoes are peppered plenty tonight Polly,” he means that they are covered in dust. (pg. 21)
  6. Since the age of four Billie Jo has been dazzled by her Ma’s piano playing. (pg. 24)
  7. Ma says that Daddy has to believe that the rain will come because he is a farmer and its coming on to spring and wheat has to be planted. (pg. 27)
  8. When Billie Jo asks to miss school to play the piano in a show her mother becomes angry and says she cannot take part in the show. (pg. 28, 29)
  9. Daddy is awakened in the middle of the night by the dust storm hitting the roof of the house. (pg. 32)
  10. While taking the six weeks test the students are covered by dust blown in by strong winds and are so dusty they need to take baths. (pg. 37)
  11. In order to forget the dust for hours Billie Jo plays the piano. (pg. 39)
  12. One of the things that Daddy is willing to talk about of his time in France during the Great War is the sight of the red poppies on the graves of the dead. (pg. 44)
  13. When Ma is “ripe as a melon,” she aches for rain. (pg. 55)
  14. Ma’s reaction to the thought of delivering quintuplets is to weep. (pg. 57)

Section 2: Wild Boys of the Road – Outlined by Dust

  1. antiseptic: a substance that prevents the growth of disease-causing microorganisms
  2. carcass: the dead body of an animal
  3. fester: a wound or sore becoming septic; food or garbage becoming rotten and offensive to the senses
  4. kerosene: a light fuel used in jet engines and domestic heaters and lamps
  5. review: a formal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting a change if needed
  6. scuff: scrape or brush the surface of a shoe or object against something
  7. suffocate: die or cause to die from the lack of air or inability to breathe
Comprehension Questions
  1. During breakfast Billie Jo’s hands are burned when she uses them to smother the flames burning her mother’s apron. (pg. 61)
  2. After being burned Billie Jo’s has a vivid dream and when she awakes she finds that one part is true, her hands are burned stumps filled with pus. (pg. 65)
  3. After being sent outside by the Doc to get water, Billie Jo describes the grasshoppers as a thousand whirring engines. (pg. 68)
  4. Ma and Billie Jo’s brother are buried on the rise overlooking the dried up Beaver River. (pg. 70)
  5. While walking to town Billie Jo tries not to look back at the grave holding Ma and the baby. (pg. 73.)
  6. While Billie Jo spends her time in pain her father spends the time building the pond that his wife had suggested he build before she died. (pg. 77)
  7. After the war when Europe didn’t need America’s wheat any more farmers had to grow more wheat, put more cattle on the land to try to make the same amount of money they had during the war because they had taken out loans, bought expensive equipment and had debts to pay. (pg. 83, 84)
  8. Arley Wanderdale says that Billie Jo’s hands could play the piano again if she tried. (pg. 89)
  9. When it snows a “real snow,” the grass, wheat, cattle, rabbits and Daddy are happy. (pg. 90)
  10. The price of admission to the Art exhibit held in the basement of the courthouse is one book or 10 cents. (pg. 94)
  11. When her grade receives the top grade of the Oklahoma state tests she wishes that she could go home and tell her Ma and hear her say, “I knew you could.” (pg. 99)
  12. Billie Jo thinks that the first drops of rain sound like a stranger tapping on the door of a dream. (pg. 10)
  13. Hayden P. Nye liked the way Billie Jo played the piano. (pg. 107)
  14. Even though there has been so much sorrow Daddy still sometimes sings under his breath, deep with the pain of what has happened to them. (pg. 111)

Section 3 – The President’s Ball – The Visit

  1. amateur: a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport on an unpaid basis
  2. court: a tribunal presided over by a judge, judges or magistrate in civil and criminal cases; to be romantically involved with someone with the intention of future marriage
  3. migrant: a worker who moves place to place to do seasonal work
  4. paralysis: the loss of the ability to move in part or most of the body, typically as a result of an illness, poison or injury
  5. pneumonia: lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection, in which the air sacs fill with pus and may become solid
  6. procession: a number of people or vehicles moving forward in an orderly fashion, especially as part of a ceremony or festival
  7. prospects: the possibility or likelihood of some future event occurring
Comprehension Questions
  1. On the day that no one goes hungry the girls ears are ringing with the sound of satisfied children. (pg. 118)
  2. Miss Freeland keeps the kids out of the classroom because the mother of the family staying in the classroom is about to give birth. (pg. 123)
  3. The sheriff decides that some of the sugar from the moonshine should be used by Miss Freeland to bake goodies for the children to eat. (pg. 126)
  4. The Grover boys play the saxophone, banjo, and clarinet. (pg. 130)
  5. When playing at the Palace Theater Billie Jo notices that her hands hurt after she has finished playing and is listening to the applause. (pg. 132)
  6. Peter Guyman’s truck, which is full of produce sits at the side of the road because he has died from dust pneumonia and no-one knows how to keep the truck on the road. (pg. 140)
  7. The driver desperate to get home straddles the car’s tires half on and half off the road in order to follow the road. (pg. 142/143 )
  8. Billie Jo feels that rain falling in other places, but not where they live is a broken promise. (pg. 147)
  9. Billie Jo does not want to die, but she does want to go away, anywhere away from the dust. (pg. 149)
  10. Mad Dog looks at Billie Jo as if he is waiting to pick a fight with her, yet at the same time looks at her with kindness. (pg. 155)
  11. The mail gets stuck on the Santa Fe because mountains of dust have blown onto the tracks preventing the trains from moving. (pg. 158)
  12. The migrants are fleeing the blowing dust and going to where they can rent farms and start again. (pg. 160)
  13. As Billie Jo is sulking in that truck on their way to Texhoma a sudden black cloud unleashes a dust storm that turned the day into night. (pg. 163)
  14. Mad Dog is going to the Amarillo to sing on the radio and is hoping he sings well enough to be given a job. (pg. 168)

Section 4: Freak Show – Finding A Way

  1. betrothed: to be engaged to another for future marriage
  2. brontosaurus: a type of dinosaur, great lizard
  3. cancer: a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in parts of the body
  4. glazes –to fit panes of glass into a window; to overlay or cover with a smooth shiny coating
  5. gaunt: lean and haggard, especially because of suffering, hunger or age
  6. glower: to have an angry or sullen look on one’s face
  7. kerchief: a piece of fabric used to cover the head, or worn tied around the neck
Comprehension Questions
  1. In order to keep the farms going the government gives loans to the farmers for seed and feed for the animals. These loans do not have to be paid back unless the crops survive and can be sold. (pg. 172)
  2. After the rains come some of the ranchers cleaned the dust from their tractors, put the cattle out to graze on the new grass, and one sang from the saddle again. (pg. 178, 180 )
  3. Everyone gathers at the Joyce City Hardware and Furniture Company storeto hear Mad Dog sing on WDAG. (pg. 182)
  4. Ma had been saving the dimes that Billie Jo had earned to send her to Panhand le A & M to study music. (pg. 186)
  5. The bitterness that Billie Jo feels comes from the dust, the silence of her father and the absence of her Ma. (pg. 195)
  6. When a man enters the train car she is in, she describes him as dirty, sour smelling and with eyes that look like death. (pg. 200)
  7. Billie Jo likens her mother and the man on the train to tumble weed because they like tumble weed held on as long as they could and then tumbled away as there are no roots. (pg. 202)
  8. When Billie Jo awakens on the train she discovers the man has gone and has taken her biscuits and left in exchange the photograph of his family. (pg. 203)
  9. Once the pond is complete Daddy plans for them to swim in it and to stock it with fish. (pg. 206)
  10. Doc tells Billie Jo to rub ointment onto her hands each day to use her hands and they will heal fine. (pg. 210)
  11. Billie Jo likes Louise because she is plain, honest and makes her Daddy laugh. (pg. 213)
  12. Billie Jo will not allow Louise to crowd her out of her Daddy’s life now that she has just found a way back into it and she won’t allow her to visit her Ma’s grave. (pg. 214, 215)
  13. When Daddy leaves the big pans, the wooden spoons and leftovers in the kitchen for Billie Jo and Louise to finish up she has mixed feelings about him, irritated, but mostly love. (pg. 223)
  14. Louise’s betrothal gift to Billie Jo’s father is a mule. (pg. 226)