How we cite our quotes:
I straightened his arms and legs so he might lay with dignity. What should I do next? There was no one to ask. I felt like a baby girl just learning to walk, only the ground under my feet was shaking and I had no one to hold on to. (19.98)
As Mattie lays Grandfather to rest, she realizes that she's now completely on her own. How is the image of a baby learning to walk important here?
"Please, Eliza, don't make me go. I know you think I'm a child, bigger than Nell, but a baby still, and that I need someone to tell me to wash my face and finish my bread." I struggled to control my voice. "I'm not. I'm not a little girl. I can take care of myself." (22.48)
Mattie struggles to think of herself as an adult. How does her relationship with Nell allow her to do this?
"No," I said firmly. "I'm not going anywhere. The work will go faster if you have me there, and you shouldn't walk home alone after dark."
Eliza raised an eyebrow.
"Never knew you to look for extra work. Come along then." (24.25-24.27)
Prior to this, Mattie had thought of herself as a lazy girl, but here she surprises herself – and Eliza – by volunteering to take on even more work. Again, she's learning that to be an adult means to care not just for yourself, but also for others.