FC: Ellen Foster | Marsela Hughes | by Kaye Gibbons
1: Major Events | Mom commits suicide "Some of her heart pills are on the table rolling around loose and the bottle is in her lap...She took almost the whole goddamn bottle..." pg 9 para 1&3 | Ellen Lives with Art Teacher "The first day back at school my teacher noticed a bruise he put on my arm...I stayed at the art teacher's house until it got warm and green outside." pg 44&46 | Moves in With Mama's Mama "He told me the court believes you should be with your family now... When it turned summer,I went to my mama's mama's house." pg 55&60 | Living with Aunt Nadine and Dora "Nadine came in the room and told me to pack up that I was going to her house to live with her and Dora." pg 93 | Goes to Foster Lady's House "I'm going to call County Social Services first thing tomorrow morning and we'll get the ball rolling...She leaned over me and pulled me up next to her and it was just like I wanted it to be." pg 119 | Throughout the book, Ellen has been neglected and treated as if she were worthless or meaningless. At the end of the book, she realizes that Starletta has been treated the same way. When she is living with the Foster Woman, she invites Starletta to come and spend the night regardless of what people might think or say. This is an important part of the book she finally sees Starletta as an equal in society.
2: Setting | "Both Roy and I were raised in the northeast. We always liked the South so when we finished college we decided to settle down here and have a family." pg 48 para 4 | "A colored woman just to cook and another one to make up your bed and dust the what-nots." pg 62 para 3 | "The leaves are starting to change good. Every year I want all the leaves to be fall-colored at the same time but there are always some that don't match." pg 16 para 10 | In the South, Blacks were a part of the lower class. Most wealthy families hired blacks to work in the fields or help cook in clean. When Ellen is sent to live with her grandmother, she is told to go work in the fields with all of the other workers. Ellen is not accustomed to this because her family used to hire blacks "to do her part of the slave labor."
3: Conflicts | Ellen's mama's mama and dad were very racial towards Blacks. When she went to live with her mama's mama, she was sent to work out in the fields with blacks. Mavis, a black servant, befriended Ellen and talked to her about her mother. This relationship changed Ellen's point of view of blacks. | Ellen vs Mama's Mama " Some days I felt like it was a torture chamber and I counted the days until school." pg 63 | Ellen vs Nadine "Nadine said I was a ungrateful b**** and I needed to have the hell beat out of me." pg 113 | Ellen vs Dad "When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy." pg 1 | Chinese Symbol for Conflict
4: Main Characters | Protagonist: Ellen Foster Independent: "I live in a clean brick house and mostly I am left to myself" pg 2 para 1 Impatient: "If I am very hungry my dress comes off of me in a heartbeat...I have a busted zipper and ripped two neck collars trying to strip and my new mama told me some things about patience."pg 58 para 2 Pocrastinator: "My new mama says for me to wash the flour off my arms and do my homework. If you are like me you will put it off until the last minute.."pg 59 para 4 | Antagonist: Ellen Foster's Father Alcoholic: "He drank his own self to death the day after the County moved me out." pg 1 para 3 Selfish: "She did ask who kept everything so clean and he took the credit." pg 4 para 4 Veteran: "He got the flag because he was in the war." pg 70 para 1 | Because of her father, Ellen grew up believing in racial misconceptions even though she doesn't really understand them. Her father and his friends were racist to Blacks. When Ellen would go over to Starletta's house, she wouldn't spend the night because she didn't feel safe. She also would not eat or drink after Starletta because she was "unclean". | j
5: Turning Point | The turning point in Ellen Foster occurs when Ellen gets into an argument with Dora. Once she is kicked out, she finds the Foster Lady and goes to live with her. She has finally overcome her horrible childhood. From that point on, she was welcomed, appreciated, and loved by her new family. She didn't have to worry about her safety or how she was going to make it through another day. This is important to the theme of the story because she realizes she wasn't the only one with a difficult past. She tells Starletta that she feels guilty for being glad that she was white and she knows that Starletta has overcome more obstacles. | "Well if you ask me I'd tell you to take a bath and do something about your hair. But I don't care what you look like just as long as you leave." pg 115 "Since my first day here all I felt is luck coming my way. I never thought I could have it this good." pg 121 "I came a long way to get here but when you think about it real hard you will see that old Starletta came even farther." pg 126