1. Describe Essie Mae's early life.
Four-year-old Essie Mae lives in a two-room shack with her father, mother, and younger sister. Her parents do all they can to make the structure comfortable for the family, but most of the decorations consist of mismatched bits of wallpaper stuck up with tacks. While her parents are working from morning to night, Essie Mae and her little sister, Adline, are watched by their eight-year-old uncle.
2. How does Essie Mae's father cause the family problems?
Essie Mae's father spends his free time gambling and womanizing. Even though Essie Mae's Mama engages in physical fights with her husband, he continues to see women. After baby Junior is born, Essie Mae's father takes the family to live with a great aunt and then leaves the family.
3. Why does Essie Mae's mother think the house is dangerous in Chapter 2?
While Essie Mae's mother is at work, Essie Mae is in charge of caring for her younger sister and brother. Their house is located near a swamp and snakes often sliver up to the house. Mama decides that it is not safe for the children to be at the house alone and her brother Ed comes to look after them.
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