Study Guide

Having Our Say Part IV, Chapter 14: Bessie

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Part IV, Chapter 14: Bessie

  • Like her sister, Bessie leaves home to teach and raise money for college. She moves to Boardman, North Carolina, a small town where she "was the most exciting thing that happened [...] in about a hundred years" (4.14.8).
  • Her students love her despite the fact that she's one tough teacher. And the fellas, well, let's just say that they were going wild for Bessie too.
  • While in Boardman, Bessie stays with the Atkinsons. Although she loves the family, she can't help but feel homesick for her comfortable life back in Raleigh.
  • After two years, Bessie moves to Brunswick, Georgia. Although Georgia is a "mean place," the city of Brunswick is at least somewhat like Raleigh (4.14.30). In fact, Bessie meets a woman named Gooch there who will become her best friend.
  • A few years later, Bessie is almost lynched. As she's boarding a train, a drunk white man approaches and berates her. Never one to back down from a fight, Bessie has a few words for him too.
  • The drunk man loses it and a crowd of white people gather. Luckily, even the white people can see that the man is drunk out of his mind, and the arrival of a train stops the situation before it escalates any further.
  • Throughout all of this, Bessie doesn't even move—she "would rather die than back down" (4.14.40).

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