Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

by

Lisa Wingate

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Before We Were Yours: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Queenie is laid out on the shanty porch while Rill and her siblings watch her moan and scream in pain. Lark tries to distance herself, but Fern and Gabion creep closer to see—Queenie looks and sounds like a different person, not like their adoring, bubbly mother. Queenie grabs Rill and hangs on while Rill begs the midwife to help. However, the midwife refuses to help because Briny refuses to pay her. Rill wonders if Briny has money to pay the doctor and worries that he’ll be arrested if he doesn’t. Rill and Camellia notice that the midwife is stealing Queenie’s hat, so Camellia steps forward to take it back. After a scuffle, the midwife leaves the hat, but steals the catfish that the siblings were supposed to have for dinner.
Briny’s refusal to pay the midwife confirms that the family is very poor and indicates that Bring is running a risk by deciding to bring Queenie to the hospital; they can get in trouble if they go and Briny refuses to or cannot pay.
Themes
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Rill tries to comfort Queenie while she screams and thrashes around. Briny left to get help, but it is a while before he returns with Old Zede, one of the family’s closest friends. Rill tells Queenie that Zede is there, which seems to comfort her. Briny leaps onto the boat and scoops Queenie up. Zede follows and leans in close to Queenie. He tells her to stay strong while he and Briny get her to the hospital. While Briny lowers Queenie into the motorboat, Zede tells Rill to get the younger kids fed and put in bed. Camellia protests, but Zede tells her to listen to Rill and gives them strict instructions not to leave the boat. Briny tells Rill to keep everyone together until he gets back, while Zede gets the motorboat started. Zede, Briny, and Queenie disappear into the night.
Both Briny and Zede evidently trust Rill to take care of the younger kids, which further emphasizes the fact that Rill is very responsible. Camellia’s protest after hearing that Rill is being left in charge indicates that she is very independent, stubborn, and doesn’t like being treated like a little kid.
Themes
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Once the motorboat is out of hearing, the kids wander into the shanty. Rill finds a chunk of cornpone and some pears that they can all share for dinner. Rill, Lark, and Fern each give Gabion (the youngest sibling at two years old) an extra piece of cornpone, but Camellia eats hers up quickly. After dinner, the youngest kids fall asleep, so Rill and Camellia load them into the big bed their parents usually sleep in. Rill worries about whether Briny, Queenie, and Zede got across the water alright. Before she gets into bed, she grabs Queenie’s cross and tries to pray.
Although there isn’t much to eat, most of the kids share some of their food with the youngest, Gabion. This shows how close the siblings are and indicates that they’re willing to make sacrifices, albeit a small one in this instance, to help each other.
Themes
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon