Their first day at the country school there was an immediate connection between two little girls who would become best friends. Abigail was sweet and quiet with beautiful blond hair that Missy envied. Many signs evidenced the poverty of Abigail’s family including the sparse food provided for their lunch; her two dresses and one pair of socks well used; and her brothers forced withdrawal from school as soon as they could work the farm. Visits to Abigail’s home reinforced the impression. It was clean, well-cared for, but missing the simple luxuries Missy took for granted.
Although we see her kind nature, through most of the story there is not a clear picture of Abigail’s beliefs. They were best friends, but they avoided discussion about race. Missy expressed concern about Abigail’s possible feelings toward Addie. It was more than fear of jealousy regarding the friendship. Perhaps Missy saw a prejudiced undertone when she visited their home or heard stories of the family’s involvement in race charged situations. Heightened bigotry among severely impoverished whites was common. Insight into why Missy worried about Abigail’s reaction is not provided, but she knew to be cautious.
The fateful day the girls came upon Addie walking along the road provided the answer. Missy was filled with relief and gratitude. Abigail was accepting and would not stand in judgment of Addie or their friendship. Abigail, as a girl and as a woman, shared her kind heart with everyone.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana