Throughout the Series
In Hope is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson tries to cheer up and console Betty, promising that her husband Henry is alive and well, to which Betty responds, “I thought poets were supposed to avoid clichés”.
In The Soul has Bandaged moments, at Lavinia Dickinson’s bandage-making night Betty finds herself “doing something” to help the war effort. Later, when Austin Dickinson comes home, drunk and bleeding from a bar fight, and despite Betty’s cries, the bandages go to the man who isn’t bravely fighting for anything but his right to go out and avoid his responsibilities. Some like Toshiaki, bring up Walt Whitman, the country’s most well-known poet, who is now a nurse because “[h]e realizes that his words don’t matter right now.” But others disagree, most notably Betty, who talks of her relationship with Henry. At first, she blamed him for prioritizing the newspaper over their family’s safety. But since he’s been gone, “writing stitched us back together again…it became a source of hope.” And she anxiously awaits his next letter. Emily takes this to heart, believing that the best thing she can do for the world is to lock herself away and write poetry. But writing in isolation is useless, as Betty retorts: “If you can’t handle the mess of the world, then why would anyone want to hear what your poems have to say. Writing that shuts real life out is as good as dead”.
In A little Madness in the Spring, in the frontlines,it is revealed that Henry has been writing letters to Betty that he refuses to send. “Maybe it’s better they forget me,” he says, “as odds are they’ll never see me again.” But little does he know the harm he’s causing back in Amherst.
In The Future never spoke, Sojourner Truth and Betty enjoy the afternoon sunshine. Sojourner encourages Betty to get back out into the dating scene. This coming after Freddie arrives with nothing from Henry once more. Sojourner plays matchmaker and persuades Betty and Freddie to go on a sunny stroll. Outside of the pub, Freddie and Betty enjoy some ice cream. Freddie believes Betty needs someone to take care of her and Helen, but she’s fine on her own. Freddie informs Betty of Henry’s whereabouts and that he’s in Buford serving in the South Carolina volunteer regiment. While there’s no correspondence from Henry, Freddie hears the rumors.
In My life had stood - a loaded gun -, Emily runs into Betty, who is too busy dealing with her own problems. Since learning of Henry’s regiment, she can't help but be distraught by his lack of contact. She puts Emily’s problems into perspective and dismisses her feeble words because “[a]ll hope ever did was make me cry”.
In This was a Poet -, when Betty stops by later, Emily requests her expertise in helping make a new dress, one she can write in and live in. Emily pitches to Betty the perfect dress which is all white, buttons on the front, corset-less and with pockets. Once Betty is done with the dress, she comes down, where Higginson hears her name and runs out to tell her of Henry’s bravery. The fact that he lives is enough to bring Betty to tears, and that’s before he brings out the bundle of letters.