Study Guide

Out of the Dust Chapter 85

By Karen Hesse

Chapter 85

Blankets of Black

  • At last, after crippling drought, fires, and dust pneumonia deaths, things finally clear up. The sky is blue and the air is free of dust for the first time in a long time; people are outside enjoying the weather and even planning on taking advantage of it by planning weekend getaways.
  • Billie Jo and her father decide to go to the funeral for Grandma Lucas, who actually wasn't her grandma or even related to them. During the funeral procession, the sky gets dark, the birds are flying in fast droves, and a black cloud is heading straight for them. This can only mean one thing: The Dust Strikes Back. Just like that, the clear weather is obliterated.
  • The entire funeral procession ends up staying at a woman's house, and more travelers end up stopping in as well. This dust storm is so catastrophic that Billie Jo says being surrounded by people kept her and everyone else from going crazy. When it finally lets up, she and her father clean the mud and dust gunk off their truck and head for home.
  • Back at home, the farm isn't a total loss, but it sure doesn't look good. There's two feet of dust in the house and the piano is almost completely buried; the animals are suffering and the tractor is destroyed.
  • And just when Billie Jo says she's glad the truck was able to start, it goes belly up, too.