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Summary: Chapter 16

When Bud wakes up in the morning, his clothes are folded neatly by his bed like Momma used to do. As Bud approaches the kitchen, he overhears voices. Herman is telling Miss Thomas that he’s going to find out what the real story is in Flint. Bud tiptoes back upstairs and makes a lot of noise with his bedroom door so they don’t know he’s been eavesdropping. He uses the bathroom, then heads down to the kitchen where he greets Mr. C., Miss Thomas, Mr. Jimmy, and Steady Eddie. 

Bud discovers it is after noon.  Miss Thomas tells him that they had a long discussion last night, and they want Bud to stay with them if things work out in Flint. She tells the happy Bud that he’ll be expected to pull his own weight, as much as possible. And she tells him he’ll have to learn to be patient with Mr. C.

Miss Thomas asks Bud about his suitcase, and Steady Eddie wonders if it’s the suitcase or the things inside that Bud’s so attached to. Bud tells them that it’s the things that he has from his mother that are the most important. Steady Eddie gives Bud an old saxophone case to carry his things in when he goes on the road with Herman E. Calloway and the Worthy Swarthys.

The band members tell Bud their Rule #1: Practice two hours a day. Steady Eddie gives Bud a recorder with which he can begin to learn music. 

The band members decide on a nickname for Bud. They consider Waterworks Willie, Sleepy, and the Bone, until they compromise and settle on Sleepy LaBone. Mr. Jimmy tells Bud to kneel down, then taps him on the head three times with the recorder. He tells Bud, “Arise, and welcome to the band, Mr. Sleepy LaBone.” Bud thinks it’s the best name he’s ever heard in his life.

Summary: Chapter 17

Bud sets to work in the Log Cabin, mopping the floors and wiping down the tables and chairs. He recalls the stories his momma has told him and playfully pretends the mop, water, and bucket are part of the story. Bud hears, “One, two, one, two, three,” and the band starts to play. As he listens, Miss Thomas comes up from behind and tells him the place is sparkling. Bud continues to listen to the band. All of the instruments blend together in such a way that he can’t tell which his favorite is. That is, until Miss Thomas starts to sing. She’s so good, Bud thinks, that she doesn’t have to sing real words, and why is the band named after Herman Calloway and not her? “Wow!” Bud exclaims when the set is over.

Analysis: Chapters 16–17

The Grand Calloway Station is beginning to feel like home to Bud. When he awakens the next day, he finds his clothes folded by his bed, “the same way Momma used to fold them.” His thoughts of Momma upon going to bed the night before and upon awakening in the morning indicate that there’s something about this place that makes him feel at home. He realizes that Miss Thomas must have taken care of him last night, and put him to bed, which for Bud is an experience of being cared for by an adult that he isn’t used to or hasn’t been for four years. Miss Thomas is assuming a motherly role for Bud.

Though Mr. C. clearly doesn’t want him around, Bud is experiencing a sense of belonging. When Miss Thomas and the band members ask about his suitcase, he trusts them enough to tell them what’s inside it and realizes that it is the memory of his mother that is most important. The old saxophone case Steady Eddie gives Bud symbolizes a new beginning for him with the band. He will put his prized possessions from his old suitcase in it. The recorder Steady Eddie gives Bud further solidifies his membership in the band. Perhaps most significant, though, is the band’s naming of Bud. From the beginning of the book, Bud had been fixated on his name, continually reminding those he meets that his name is Bud, not Buddy. Bud accepts his new name, Sleepy LaBone, having found another piece of his new identity.

The reader now begins to notice a change in Bud. He seems to be quite happy, and he’s proud to contribute and make the club sparkle. He soaks up the compliments from Miss Thomas, who has quickly established herself as a significant presence in Bud’s life. When the band starts to play, Bud relaxes into the music, allowing it to captivate him as he listens to the interplay and cohesiveness of the instruments, each which contributes to the whole. The universal language of the music touches Bud profoundly.

At this point, Bud seems content to let Mr. C, his father, exist on the periphery, and not pay him much heed. Mr. C. has, after all, been outvoted by the others with regards to Bud’s presence. Miss Thomas and the band members have clearly demonstrated that they care for Bud and want him to stay with them. Miss Thomas has advised Bud that Mr. C is going to test his spirit. Bud, though, reassures her, “‘Yes, ma’am, my spirit’s a lot stronger than it looks too, most folks are really surprised by that.’” The reader already knows the truth behind that statement.