Study Guide

One Crazy Summer Chapter 32

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Chapter 32

Be Eleven

  • The girls tell Cecile all about their experience while she was in jail.
  • Cecile shrugs off being arrested; she definitely doesn't consider herself a freedom fighter like Sister Mukumbu and the other Panthers do. She's just a lady trying to survive.
  • The next morning, Delphine gets some quality time with Cecile in the kitchen.
  • Cecile scolds her for not calling Pa when she got arrested and for trying to take care of her sisters all by herself. She's eleven, after all, not forty-five.
  • She even explains how calling Pa would have been taking care of Vonetta and Afua.
  • Afua? Who the heck is Afua?
  • Before she questions the name, Delphine gets furious that Cecile criticizes how she takes care of her sisters. She's only eleven, and she does the best she can because Cecile left them.
  • Cecile hears this, pauses, then tells Delphine to sit.
  • She starts explaining her actions, starting with the fact that she left. Or if not explaining, at least describing what happened.
  • Cecile was orphaned when she was eleven, taken in by her aunt, but then put out again when she was sixteen.
  • She slept on the streets and read poetry to keep her spirits up.
  • Cecile was always hungry. Sometimes she got food; other times, she didn't.
  • Then Pa (she calls him Louis, though) found her sick on a bench one day and took her in. A year later, Delphine was born.
  • Cecile was just seventeen.
  • Then she had Vonetta, and Fern (though she's still not saying Fern's name).
  • Her labor with Fern was so sudden and quick that Delphine had to help.
  • Delphine doesn't remember this.
  • Cecile's point?
  • Delphine's life is hard, yes, but it's better than what Cecile could have provided—she just wasn't ready to be a mother. She's not trying to mean; it's just the truth.
  • Surprisingly, Delphine isn't totally comforted by this. But she does realize that she's spent so much time taking care of her sisters that she's never let herself just be mad at Cecile.
  • And she is mad.
  • Then she asks about why Cecile left. Was it because she couldn't name the baby, like Big Ma said?
  • Cecile describes the day she left Delphine, Vonetta, and Afua.
  • And how the name is a part of it, but it's way more complicated than that; Delphine won't really be able to understand until she's older.
  • Then she gives Delphine some sage advice: Be eleven while you can; be a kid.
  • Delphine goes to sleep, but wakes with a start, finally wondering about this "Afua."

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