Bud sleeps a little late and must run with his suitcase to the mission. When he arrives, he sees that there are people still waiting in line and he rushes to the end of it. Unfortunately, the line stretches for two blocks and has been cut off with the people just in front of Bud. He tries to reason with the man who has cut off the line, but the guy is unwilling to listen to him. He tells the boy that all the other people in line had arrived early to get breakfast and so it wasn’t fair that Bud could take advantage of sleeping in. Furthermore, he emphasizes that the rest of the people in line are just as thin and hungry as Bud. Then, he slaps his hand with a strap to show Bud that he’s willing to beat him to get him to go away.
Bud is just turning to go, unwilling to be beaten and still be hungry afterward, when a big hand comes down on his neck. Fearing that the man is going to strap him anyway, Bud tries to escape. However, the new fist belongs to a strange man, who calls him Clarence. When he still struggles, the man and then his wife both slap Bud and continue to call him Clarence, punishing him for being late as if he belongs to them. Bud finally realizes that this family is pretending he is their son, so he can get some breakfast. He quiets down then and stands in line with them, even though he figures they could have chosen a better name than Clarence. He gets a bowl of oatmeal, an apple, and some milk on a tray from a very kind lady, and he reads all the signs that ask him to be quiet and clean and not ask for a job. He also eats quietly with his pretend family. The mother brings out some brown sugar and asks her real children to share with Bud. They don’t look too happy about it, but they don’t complain and Bud enjoys his first sugar in a long time. The family walks away after breakfast with his pretend mother warning him to be early the next morning and her son sticking out his tongue at Bud. Bud isn’t hurt by the son’s mean goodbye, because he figures he’s be angry, too if he had to share his brown sugar with strangers.
Bud’s breakfast experience gives the reader the opportunity to see that people are both mean and kind during this time when everyone is suffering because of the Depression. The man who controls the line lacks basic compassion if he’s willing to turn away just one child while the pretend family takes the chance of being turned away themselves by including him in their group. Their kindness comes out of nowhere and continues with their willingness to share their sugar supply. They are part of a population who understands that basic kindness can make all the difference in a time of struggle.
his breakfast, Bud heads for the library. It is obvious that he is a regular visitor,
because as soon as he walks in the door, he recognizes the special smells of a
library. No other place smells quite the same to Bud. He closes his eyes and gets
a whiff of leather, the cloth that covers the books, and the special smell of
the paper, which he calls a soft, powdery, drowsy smell. This smell he feels is
hypnotizing and can make people reading at the various tables fall asleep and
drool into the books. Their faces fall completely down . . . whoop, zoop, sloop
. . . and they’re out cold with their faces smack-dab on the book. He says this is what makes the librarians angry, even more than laughing out loud in the library, because it ruins what is so important to them, books.
Bud leaves his suitcase at the desk and goes in search of Miss Hill. Unfortunately, he doesn’t find her, and when he asks the librarian at the desk where Miss Hill is, the answer begins with, “My goodness, haven’t you heard?” Immediately, Bud is reminded of Rule Number 16: “If a grownup ever starts a sentence by saying, ‘Haven’t you heard,” get ready, because what’s about to come out of their mouth is gonna drop you headfirst into a boiling tragedy.” It will be like your grandmother getting her whole body pulled through a wringer on a washing machine or something like hearing that a horse slipped on the ice and landed on some kid you go to school with. Humorously, the answer is nowhere near as tragic as Bud expects. Miss Hill has just gotten married and moved to Chicago. When Bud asks how long it will take to walk there, like a typical librarian, the lady pulls out three different books to tell Bud that it will take 54 hours to walk to Chicago. To Bud, Miss Hill might now be a million miles away from Flint, a squashed, crunched up mess in a washing machine when it comes to helping him.
Bud sits down at a table to think about his next step. Going back to the Home is out, because he knows that the place is more and more crowded with orphans, many of whom are just sick, little babies. The overworked caseworkers and staffers don’t even give out their names or call the children by their own, because they are no quickly moved in and out. So, he picks up his suitcase and walks outside into the regular air and stinking smells of Flint. The closing of the library door is exactly the kind of door his mother had told him about. He know that another is about to open. Then, Bud returns to the Christmas trees and curls up with his blanket, falling fast asleep.
Not finding Miss Hill places Bud once again in a situation where he must begin to think about finding the next door and reaching deep within himself to find a way to survive. He uses wonderful imagery and symbolism to describe his experience which in turn tells the reader what an imaginative, intelligent boy Bud is. He is filled with hope and determination even though he is in a situation where most adults would fail to survive.
Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Bud, Not Buddy".
. 23 March 2015