Belle Mitchell Benbow

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Belle Mitchell Benbow
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Benbow, Belle Mitchell
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In Flags in the Dust Belle is Harry Mitchell's wife and Horace Benbow's lover for most of the novel, though she is Mrs. Benbow at the end. With Harry she has a daughter, Little Belle. Her hair is described as a "rich bloody auburn" (199), and her personality in equally vivid if pejorative terms: "her eyes are like hothouse grapes and her mouth was redly mobile, rich with discontent" (182). "Smoldering" is recurrent adjective for her (201, 203, etc.). Unlike the aristocratic Benbows, she is very much a citizen of the New South. Narcissa, Horace's sister, calls her "dirty!" (206). Horace thinks of her as the fatal attraction he cannot resist. Belle is only seen, briefly, at the very end of Sanctuary, but as the woman from whom Horace feels the need to escape after a decade of marriage she is often very present in his thoughts, and in his conversations with the other women in the life he tries to resume in Jefferson after leaving her. When he returns to her, defeated, she gets the last word in their relationship: "'Lock the back door,' she said" (301).