Study Guide

Belle Prater's Boy Friendship

By Ruth White

Friendship

"I'll tell you if you promise to be my best friend," he said.

"I would be honored, Woodrow!" I said, genuinely pleased.

He grinned all over, showing great white teeth and a tongue stained with the cherry candy. (1.67-69)

Woodrow and Gypsy may seem like completely different kids, at least on the outside, but they have an instant connection and become fast friends as soon as Woodrow moves in next door.

Later that evening, Woodrow and I went out to my tree house overlooking Slag Creek, which my daddy built for me when I was only five. It was a two-story job, the lower floor being the porch and the upper floor being the house. Woodrow was impressed. After inspecting it throughout, he suggested we make it our secret hideout. (6.66)

Gypsy must really trust Woodrow and consider him a serious friend since she allows him into her inner sanctum, a.k.a. the tree house her father built for her. Now they have their own little clubhouse of two.

Granny, Grandpa, and Mama got their heads together and came to a decision about mine and Woodrow's habit of running to every picture show that came to town. I thought the new law was dumb. It said children should spend as much time as possible in the fresh air and sunshine. (10.1)

Woodrow and Gypsy are in agreement about one thing: They'd rather be watching movies than playing outside. They're good enough friends that they can have fun wherever they are, though.

I was thinking either I would have to sit between them, in which case Porter would have to be on one side of me, or I would have to put Woodrow between us, in which case Porter would hog all of Woodrow's attention. Putting Porter between me and Woodrow wasn't even an option for me, but it looked like that's what Porter was trying to manipulate when we found three empty seats together in the balcony. (10.43)

Isn't it bad enough that Porter has already married Gypsy's mother and taken her father's place in the house? She can't help but get upset when he seems to be angling to steal her best friend, too.

For years I had heard him singing, but I had seen him only in the dark from afar while he rummaged through people's leftovers and the dogs sniffed around him. Now he was here. Leave it to Woodrow to bring him right up to my window and introduce him like he was somebody's cousin from Grassy Lick maybe. (11.15)

Woodrow makes friends with everyone when he shows up in Coal Station, especially those who have been overlooked by others. He even befriends Blind Benny, who most people avoid because of his shriveled up eyes.

We didn't have anything to say to each other for a long time, and Woodrow looked so pitiful I couldn't stand it. I thought and thought about what I could say to him to make him feel better. Finally, I had it.

"Tell you what, Woodrow, when Mama lets me go outside again, we'll have a wienie roast, okay?" (11.83-84)

As Woodrow's best friend, Gypsy feels responsible for distracting him when he's all bummed out about his mother's disappearance. She tries to plan fun things for them to do over the summer together.

Woodrow was immediately smitten with the debutantes, so I let him serve them. They were really pretty and smelled almost as good as the gardenias. (15.10)

Even at the age of twelve Gypsy is already proving to be an excellent wing woman. She has Woodrow serve all the pretty debutantes so that he can flirt with them and get all their attention.

For the rest of summer vacation things were not quite the same between me and Woodrow, but we were polite to each other. We didn't mention the change.

The last Saturday in August Mama took me to Bristol to shop for new clothes, like she did every year. I didn't ask Woodrow to go along, even though I knew he had never been there and he really wanted to go. (17.1-2)

Oh no—it looks like a rift has formed in Gypsy and Woodrow's friendship. Will they ever be able to return to the closeness they shared when he first moved in? How are they going to move past these polite pleasantries?

There was talk for months about how Woodrow Prater beat the tar out of Buzz Osborne on the first day of school. But I was not there to see the fight. During the commotion I left the classroom on wobbly legs. (18.1)

Though he and Gypsy are going through a rough patch in their friendship, Woodrow still rises to the occasion to defend her when Buzz crosses a line. He immediately beats him up for daring to mention how Gypsy's father committed suicide.

For cutting my hair I voluntarily took on the same punishment for myself, partly because I wanted to hide anyway, and partly to show my support for Woodrow, who had tried to shield me from hurt. (19.28)

Gypsy isn't grounded, but she takes on the punishment herself in solidarity with Woodrow since he only got in trouble for defending her. It looks like the dynamic duo is back in action again. Phew.

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