In the class, we discussed the three levels of the title. Two physical meaning and one about Billy’s mental change. For those two physical levels, the facts that Billy Beede is pregnant and getting into a mother’s body shape day by day and she’s going to Lajunta to get Willa Mae, her mother’s body are no denying. But from the perspective of the mental level, the mental heritages that Billy Beede gets from her mother, is not that obvious and determined. Is she really getting her mother’s body mentally?
Sophisticated, sociable, dangled by so many people, Willa Mae seems so different with her daughter, who is naïve about sex and everything, at the beginning of this story. Except for having a fatherless baby, Billy Beede doesn’t have too much in common with her mother.
But gradually I see more and more evidence that she is her mother’s daughter.
“I see something in her, …… Mother said she could see The Hole in people and then she’d know how to take them. She could see Holes all the time but I ain’t never seen one. Until now. Words shapes theirselves in my mouth and I start talking without thinking of what I need to say. It’s like The Hole shapes the words for me and I don’t got to think or nothing.”(27) She uses her mother’s communication philosophy “”to circle with other people.
“Billy looks at my ring again.’ We could try something,’ she says. The way she says it makes everybody look at her. She looks around the jukes at all of us, then takes a glance at the door, making sure no one else can hear. Her eyes got a kind of fire in them. We all see it.’ Willa Mae and me used to pull what’s called a ring trick.’ She says” She’s using a trick from her mother to help people get through difficulties, well, though the trick is unethical, it did work.
If “getting mother’s body” mean Billy Beede is getting some characteristic from her mother, sure it is true. Because some traits of Willa Mae are shown on Billy Beede day by day. But it doesn’t mean Billy Beede is becoming another Willa Mae. I think there is a significant difference between having something in common and becoming two similar people. Billy Beede definitely inherits some traits and tricks from her mom, but she’s a different person from Willa Mae. She is more settled down, more acceptable for a normal, plain family life.
The change in her is gradually. In the last chapter, which is in the perspective of Billy Beede, there are several sentences which shows that, after all the things happened on their way to LaJunta, she is no longer that naïve girl at the beginning, she has grown into a mentally mature woman.
“Not a diamond, just a plain wedding band, but it was never than diamonds, I thought.”(256) She got a much more mature view of love than the one she had at the beginning, in which sexual attraction seems the essential factor to her.
And “Then I knew Dill had tooked it from mother and if Dill had tooked that ring then she had tooked the pearls too……I wasn’t gonna ask Dill about them while we was riding back home. I wasn’t never gonna ask her……If Dill stole things I don’t got a need to talk about it. The truth, whatever it is, is gonna stay secret.”(256-267) The previous Billy said whatever she want and never thought about the consequence but now she knows making something “stay secret” is necessary.
“When I seen her bones I knew what we all knew, that we’s all gonna end up in a grave someday, but there’s stops in between there and now.” She is no longer the little girl that has no direction in her life, she starts to realize the limitation of a person’s life. But instead of giving a negative response to the fact that people all die one day, she realizes the philosophy for living a life and enjoy what we have.
Billy Beede is certainly getting mother’s body, but instead of getting the body of her mother, Willa Mae, she is getting the body, as well as the mind, of a mature woman.
I don’t believe that people’s personalities are heritable. It’s no denying that parents and children sometimes have similar personalities, characters, or sometimes may even have similar life experiences. But it doesn’t mean the parents pass those “personal identities” genetically to the children. I believe it’s the common living environment that makes parents and children have something in common. And different experiences and environments will surely lead to different personalities. And maybe that’s why, though Billy Beede has something in common with Willa Mae, she is Billy Beede herself, not a Willa Mae.
Parks, Suzan-Lori. Getting Mother's Body. New York: Random House, 2003. Print.