sidesideside
5. What exactly had Mrs. Harmond been told to make her so cautious about Trussell?

         Well, I'm sure there was the neighborhood scuttlebutt that she would have been privy to, and Ellen had told her some "crazy things" Trussell had done at school (p. 113), but if we just stick to her direct experiences with Trussell, there are three.  First, she sees him on the viaduct in the back of Emily's convertible, without a shirt on.  Later, as Ellen recounts the story to Trussell, she laughs and tells him how silly he looked (p. 226).  It's hard not to imagine Ellen telling her mother, "That’s the boy who lives behind us."  Or more likely, Mrs. Harmond would have recognized him anyway and seen a boy more aptly dressed for a swimming pool than a church service.

         Second, she meets him after the Sunday worship service when Ellen is being greeted by church members, including Trussell.  He announces to Mrs. Harmond that he has stopped shooting birds, producing a scowl on her part and a glance toward her husband for help.  That brief meeting (p. 37) did not go well for Trussell.

         Third, and this is the big one, Trussell asks Ellen out for a date on the same day he called!  That was not proper protocol in 1956 for getting a date.  The suitor should call days in advance, if not a week.  Trussell knows this is a violation of the dating code and pleads for an exception because he would like to talk about some problems he has with the "teachings of the church."  Ellen seems not to mind, but she knows immediately that her mother will.  And indeed Mrs. Harmond does, and, although letting Ellen go out on the date, first grills Trussell to a medium well.