One day Momma tells the children it is time for them to move to California. Marguerite is fairly certain this decision came about because of an incident involving Bailey. He had been walking home from the movies and had noticed the body of a Black man being dragged out of a lake. A white man watching the scene ordered Bailey to help carry the body to the police station. The man had laughed mercilessly at Bailey’s discomfort, and said threatening things to him. Bailey was clearly scarred by the incident, and Momma knew that Arkansas was not a safe place for a black boy to grow up.
Once again, systemic violence and racism drive Marguerite and Bailey away from home. Bailey’s treatment at the hands of the white man indicates to Momma that Bailey has reached an age where it is no longer safe to be black and male in the South. The implication is clear that Bailey could be the next body dragged from the lake if he stays in Stamps—and Momma knows they must again move away. Home and the feeling of belonging remain elusive.
Momma has to organize the transportation. She will ride with Marguerite on the train about a month ahead of Bailey, so as to spread out the cost of the tickets. Marguerite knows she will miss Bailey, and all of her friends in Stamps. The only person she won’t miss is Mrs. Flowers, who had given her a gift that would not be affected by distance: books.
Marguerite handles this relocation better than any thus far, in large part because of what Mrs. Flowers taught her: that there is refuge in literature and that stories and poetry can accompany and comfort her anywhere. Books become the only semblance of “home” that Marguerite has.