Page 1. " the number of stars that shone in the night sky over the bayou "


GNU Free Documentation LicenseBayou - Credit: Jan Kronsell


The author paints a picture of the Louisana bayou from Ruby's artistic perspective. A bayou is a very slow-moving body of water or a marsh or wetland. While Ruby's bayou is in Houma, Lousiana, others are found along the Mississippi River. Bayous are home to crawfish, shrimp, shellfish, catfish, and alligators.




Page 1. " where the silvery catfish hid on days "

Grandpere Jack catches catfish from the bayou. Noodling is a technique used to catch these fish with bare hands.

Page 1. " simple tombstone that read: Gabrielle Landry "

Ruby's family bears the surname Landry. Landry has French origins and is the second oldest name in France. Three saints bear the last name as well.

Page 5. " when the tourists came to the bayou. "

Tourism is prevalent in the bayou. Many travel to Houma to witness the wetlands and experience Cajun culture. Terrebonne Parish offers swamp tours, authentic Cajun food, Cajun dancing, and other celebrations.

Page 5. " This year spring had been more like summer. "

Bayou in Spring
Public DomainBayou in Spring - Credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service
 Weather in Houma during the spring is generally 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in terms of the average high. The lowest temperatures during spring are 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenehit. For Ruby, this spring is particularly warm, probably in the 90s.

Page 7. " she carried the powers of a Traiteur, a treater; "

Traiteur is the French Acadiana term for a faith healer.

The primary method of treatment involves laying hands on the person in need of healing. The healing is a combination of Catholic prayer and medicine. Many, like Grandmere Catherine, refuse to accept offers of payment for their services because they see their gifts as being from God. Very few traiteurs exist in the modern world. According to tradition, Catherine's daughter Gabrielle could not have possessed traiteur powers because the rituals are passed down only to the opposite gender.

Page 9. " even though our Cajun language was French. "

Cajun French is spoken primarily in Lousiana and derives from Acadian French. It differs from French spoken in France today. Children were not allowed to speak French in public schools in Lousiana until the 1960's, a short time before this novel takes place. An example of a Cajun French word is fais-do-do, a Cajun dance with Acadian roots.

Page 10. " We Cajuns, who were descendents of the Arcadians "

Cajuns, like Grandmere Catherine and Grandpere Jack, are descendants of Acadians exiled from modern-day Canada, Nova Scotia, and Maine. The Acadians were evicted by the British between 1755 and 1763.

Page 14. " met my mother at a fais dodo, a Cajun dance. "

A fais dodo is a Cajun dance. The type of dance originated before World War II and the translation means "go to sleep".  

Page 14. " Some of the drawings became watercolor paintings. "

Ruby is an artist, showing a strong correlation to V.C. Andrews and her personal life. Andrews was a successful painter.

Page 15. " Many loved to eat Grandmere's gumbo or jambalaya. "

Gumbo is a soup from Louisiana what is made of stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and vegetables. The vegetables are celery, onion, and bell pepper. It is a dish usually served on top of rice.Gumbo is a complex dish.

GNU Free Documentation Licensejambalaya - Credit: Cliff Hutson

Jambalaya is comprised of meat, vegetables, stock, and rice. Grandmere Catherine's jambalaya would not contain tomatoes as a Louisiana tradition. Jamabalaya is a simple dish.

Page 17. " At night he would sit on his galerie and play mournful tunes on his accordion and drink his rotgut whiskey. "

Ruby often hears Grandpere Jack playing his accordion across the swamp.

Page 18. " Paul was sitting on the galerie steps playing his harmonica, "

Ruby comes home to find Paul sitting on the galerie steps playing his harmonica. The harmonica is typical of Cajun music and culture.