Study Guide

Belle Prater's Boy Abandonment

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Even though everything seems hunky dory in Coal Station, both Woodrow and Gypsy are suffering through abandonment by their parents in Belle Prater's Boy. Gypsy is mad at her father, Amos, who killed himself when she was five years old. And Woodrow is having a hard time with his mom's disappearance, especially once he realizes she's not coming back for him. Gypsy and Woodrow both have to deal with super complicated feelings—and gaping emotional wounds—when it comes to the people who've left them. At least they have each other to lean on, right?

Questions About Abandonment

  1. Why doesn't Gypsy's mother want to talk about how Amos died? Is this lack of interest in talking about Amos's death a sort of abandonment of Gypsy in its own right? Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think Gypsy is so mad at her father when she cuts off all her hair? What specifically happens to make this her breaking point?
  3. How does Woodrow react when Gypsy asks about the money for his operation? Why?

Chew on This

Woodrow has to go through the pain of abandonment twice after his mother disappears—once when Belle leaves without a trace, and again when Everett drops him off with his grandparents and goes to be with another woman.

Gypsy's family has a harder time with Amos's suicide because they can't just mourn; they also have to deal with the anger they feel about him choosing to leave even though he knew it would hurt them.

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