My aunt is so glad to be out of a colored town. She unlocks her door now because she feels safe.

In Chapter 4, Ellen notices her aunt Nadine's obvious discomfort as, on the way to her mother's burial service, the funeral train passes through a "colored town," which is surely impoverished and run down. This quote is exceptionally revealing of the attitude towards black people during the mid to late 1970s in the southern United States, which plays a key role in Ellen Foster. There is a current of racial tension that electrifies the novel, and this particular quote condenses the general sentiment of whites toward black people in Ellen's southern community. This sentiment greatly affects Ellen's relationship with her best friend Starletta, who is black, though Ellen eventually learns that it is character and content, not skin color, that defines an individual. The quote also serves to highlight her aunt Nadine's generally uppity and condescending attitude. Though Nadine is only a bit wealthier than Ellen—which is to say, not wealthy at all, she acts as though she is royalty and vilifies nearly everyone she encounters.