Study Guide

Out of the Dust Chapter 46

By Karen Hesse

Chapter 46

The Path of Our Sorrow

  • If you don't know much about the Dust Bowl, you're probably wondering how things got this bad.
  • If this is the case, then you're in luck: Miss Freeland is about to explain everything, because she's a teacher and that's what she does.
  • During World War I, wheat from the U.S. was in demand all over the world, and we made so much money that we got kind of full of ourselves. The country started growing more and more wheat, buying big tractors and plows to make farming faster and more productive.
  • When the war was over, Europe was able to grow their own wheat, but America still needed money. The solution? Raise a whole bunch of animals—and grow even more wheat to keep making profit like during the war.
  • Here's the problem, though. Farmers plowed up all the topsoil, which dried out the land, and the animals overgrazed what grass was left, so nothing could grow; when the drought came, no water in the topsoil spelled big trouble.
  • Billie Jo considers all of this and thinks about the disaster that had been coming the region's way for all this time.