Just before Bessie dies, she warns her son of Blue Elk's questionable intentions and malicious trickery, seeming to sense that Blue Elk will attempt to manipulate Tom into changing in ways in which he does not desire to change. This warning speaks to Bessie's profound wisdom and experience. In the course of her life, Bessie has lived in two drastically different environments. Having come of age in the wilderness, according to Ute traditions, she returned to the woods later in life. The circumstances of her husband's fight with Frank No Deer forced this transition, but the natural environment also embodied a lifestyle that she preferred. She also passed a few years in Pagosa, where monetary hardships and the poor treatment her family endured shed her of her naïveté and of her belief that people possess an inherent goodness. Having experienced and contemplated these divergent circumstances, Bessie has made the decision to remain loyal to the old ways. She has invested significant amounts of time and energy to instruct her son about these old ways. The prospect of his loss of heritage pains her, and she strives to protect him from it. Thus her warning about Blue Elk's schemes reflects her own life lessons. Additionally, it foreshadows his increasingly significant role in shaping Tom's life and the devastating consequences that result.