Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

by

Lisa Wingate

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B. A. “Briny” Foss Character Analysis

Rill Foss’s biological father. Briny and Queenie got married when Queenie was just a teenager and soon began having children. Briny calls his wife Queenie because he considers her the queen of their shanty boat, the Arcadia. Together with their first five children (Rill, Camellia, Lark, Fern, and Gabion) they lead a happy life on the Mississippi River until Queenie’s difficult labor with twins forces Briny to bring her to a hospital. When the twins are born, a nurse tells Briny that the twins were stillborn. Briny sends his friend, Old Zede, back to the shanty boat to tell Rill and others about what happened. After Old Zede leaves, however, the Foss children are kidnapped and brought to an orphanage. It is revealed that Briny unwittingly signed some papers relinquishing his rights to the children and is unable to get them back. A short time later, Queenie dies of blood poisoning and Briny becomes an alcoholic. Years later, not even the sudden reappearance of two of his children—Rill and Fern—is enough to make him happy again. One stormy night, he unties their boat on the river and it is destroyed by a floating tree. Although a rescue party promptly arrives to save Briny, he is never found. Rill thinks she sees him on the shore, but the man walks away before Rill can determine whether it was Briny or not.

B. A. “Briny” Foss Quotes in Before We Were Yours

The Before We Were Yours quotes below are all either spoken by B. A. “Briny” Foss or refer to B. A. “Briny” Foss. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Personal Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ballantine edition of Before We Were Yours published in 2017.
Chapter 12 Quotes

“Poor little waifs,” she says to the man. “We take them in when they are unwanted and unloved. We provide them with all that their parents cannot or will not give them.”

I bolt my eyes to the ground and make fists behind my back. It’s a lie, I wish I could scream at the man. My mama and daddy want us. They love us. So did the father who came to see his little boy, Lonnie, and ended up broke down on the porch crying like a baby when they said Lonnie’d been adopted.

Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Chapter 14 Quotes

Inside my skin, I’m empty and cold, like the Indian caves where Briny took us camping one time when we hiked up over the bluffs. There were bones in the caves. Dead bones of people who are gone. There are dead bones in me.

Rill Foss can’t breathe in this place. She doesn’t live here. Only May Weathers does. Rill Foss lives down on the river. She’s the princess of Kingdom Arcadia.

Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 24 Quotes

The trees lean close after we turn, and I take one look back. I let the river wash away something inside of me.

It washes away the last of Rill Foss.

Rill Foss is princess of Kingdom Arcadia. The king is gone, and so is the kingdom.

Rill Foss has to die with it.

I’m May Weathers now.

Page Number: 311
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire Before We Were Yours LitChart as a printable PDF.
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B. A. “Briny” Foss Character Timeline in Before We Were Yours

The timeline below shows where the character B. A. “Briny” Foss appears in Before We Were Yours. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Family Secrets Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
...one baby and that there’s nothing the midwife can do—Queenie must go to the hospital. Briny doesn’t reply to this but punches the wall. Rill hears Queenie’s cross fall to the... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Rill sees Briny look out the window of the shanty while the midwife yells at him to bring... (full context)
Chapter 4
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Personal Identity Theme Icon
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,... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 6
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Rill dreams that she is on the boat with Briny and Queenie. Queenie is singing into the wind and Briny says she looks like a... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Zede says he must go back to the hospital to help Briny, but leaves the teenager, Silas, on the boat to help take care of the younger... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
...and her siblings can go see their parents. Rill asks the man if Queenie and Briny are okay, even though she knows he’s lying about having seen them. Rill hears a... (full context)
Chapter 8
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...notes that Camellia is looking for escape routes and whispers to her to stop because Briny, who is sure to come looking for them soon, would want them all to stay... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...out of her office smelling like whiskey and gets mad at Camellia for asking where Briny and Queenie are. Murphy says that Camellia is the reason the kids must sit instead... (full context)
Chapter 10
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...herself—that if they’re good and do as they’re told, then someone will bring them to Briny. Camellia theorizes that the man who gave them the peppermints might be able to bring... (full context)
Chapter 12
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...for a viewing. She doesn’t know what this means but thinks it might mean that Briny is coming to see them. However, this worries her because recently a man came to... (full context)
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...asks Rill what she heard at the window. Rill says she didn’t hear anything about Briny and Camellia says he must be in jail and Queenie must be dead. Rill yells... (full context)
Chapter 15
Family Secrets Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...paperwork for a newborn named Shad Arthur Foss who was surrendered by his unwed parents— B. A. Foss and Mary Anne Anthony—at birth and given to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Avery is... (full context)
Chapter 16
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...Riggs. Rill starts to wonder if Camellia really is dead and remembers the last thing Briny told her: “You watch over the babies, Rill.” She notes that even her name sounds... (full context)
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...on the other side of the fence touches her arm: it’s Silas. He explains how Briny was tricked into signing surrender papers for all the kids. Silas says they looked for... (full context)
Chapter 18
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...as she can to meet Silas at the fence. On the way, she worries that Briny and Queenie won’t want her when they find out she lost her four siblings. When... (full context)
Chapter 19
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Family Secrets Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...her story with Trent and Avery, starting with the names of her parents (Queenie and Briny) and her siblings (Camellia, Lark, Fern, and Gabion). Avery is mesmerized by the tragic story... (full context)
Chapter 22
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...truly happy again, but she begins to worry a bit as they get closer—what will Briny and Queenie think when they see it’s just Rill and Fern? As they approach the... (full context)
Chapter 24
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...river. When she wakes up, however, it’s just her and Fern curled up together where Briny won’t find them. Rill hears Silas fake a whippoorwill call to let her know he’s... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
Silas tells Rill to let Briny know that Zede is leaving in four days and if Briny isn’t ready to leave... (full context)
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
Rill and Fern go to bed and fall asleep before Briny comes home, but Rill wakes up later when she hears Briny shouting into the violent... (full context)
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Family Secrets Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...over the river, Rill sees the shanty boat in flames and desperately calls out to Briny. A voice answers, but it’s not Briny’s—out of the darkness, a small boat full of... (full context)
Chapter 25
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Family Secrets Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...lived very happily together, although it was never quite the same as with Queenie and Briny. (full context)