Study Guide

Belle Prater's Boy Identity

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Throughout Belle Prater's Boy, Gypsy deals with a simmering resentment about the way people treat her. She believes they see her as simply a pretty girl and overlook all her other traits and talents—and it really bugs her. She works hard over the course of the book to make sure that people see her for who she really is, even if it means chopping off all her beautiful locks and holding a piano recital.

And even though we don't see her, it's clear that Belle is reinventing her own identity, too. By leaving and starting a whole new life, Belle gets to be whoever she wants to be, without being tied to her family or her sad past.

Questions About Identity

  1. Why do you think Aunt Belle sneaks out while dressed in Woodrow's clothes? Why do you think Woodrow keeps this a secret for so long?
  2. Why doesn't Gypsy want to be known as the pretty girl? What are its limits? Does this connect to her mom at all?
  3. How does Amos lose his identity after the fire? Does this contribute to his death? Why or why not?
  4. What does Porter mean when he says that he can actually see Gypsy?

Chew on This

Gypsy doesn't just chop off all of her hair because she's mad at Amos; she does it because she needs to know what it's like to be herself without the security blanket of her "pretty girl" persona.

Ultimately, Gypsy and Woodrow both need to change their appearance in order for people to see them for who they truly are.

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