Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

by

Lisa Wingate

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Old Zede Character Analysis

Briny Foss’s friend and neighbor on the Mississippi River. Zede becomes a father figure for Briny and teaches him and Queenie how to live on their shanty boat and navigate the river. Zede helps Briny bring Queenie to the hospital in Memphis when she is unable to deliver her twin babies on the boat. When Zede returns, he brings Silas, a homeless teenager he is caring for, with him. He tells Silas to look out for the young Foss children, but Silas is unable to stop the police from taking Rill Foss and her siblings away on Georgia Tann’s orders. After the Foss kids are taken, Zede takes care of Queenie and Briny. After Queenie’s death, however, Zede only has Briny to care for until the sudden reappearance of Rill and Fern Foss. Although Zede tries to take care of them all, Briny’s heartbreak and alcoholism make him self-destructive and he unties their boat during a storm, which leads to it being destroyed by a floating tree. After this, Rill decides she and Foss must return to their adopted parents—even though it breaks his heart, Zede agrees because he is too old to care for them all. Still, he takes care of Arney (the young woman who helps Rill and Fern find their family’s shanty boat). After going back to her adoptive parents, Rill never sees Old Zede again.
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Old Zede Character Timeline in Before We Were Yours

The timeline below shows where the character Old Zede appears in Before We Were Yours. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 6
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
...when she hears a knock on the door. She looks out the window and sees Zede, who is obviously distraught. Rill opens the door and pulls a shawl around her, then... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Zede says he must go back to the hospital to help Briny, but leaves the teenager,... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
...look to Rill, too scared to make a noise. Camellia whispers that the person isn’t Zede when the person steps onto the boat. The man continues calling into the boat and... (full context)
Chapter 14
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...tries to hide the dirty clothes outside of their basement window, she thinks she sees Zede and Silas across the street. (full context)
Chapter 22
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
Rill talks Arney into running away with them by saying Zede will take care of him. Arney reveals that he’s actually a girl, but Rill says... (full context)
Chapter 24
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
Rill has a dream that she, Lark, Fern, Gabion, Camellia, Queenie, Zede, and Silas are all together on the shanty boat heading down the river. When she... (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 at that point,... (full context)
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Family Secrets Theme Icon
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
Silas tells Rill that Zede will bring the boat down and they can all live on it happily together. Rill... (full context)
Chapter 25
Personal Identity Theme Icon
...more lately. May looks intently at Avery and then says she never saw Silas or Zede again, although many years later she heard that Arney was married and traveling the world.... (full context)