Bessie, Tom's mother, serves as an incredibly influential force in Tom's life, beliefs, and behaviors. Her wisdom, courage, and love, demonstrated by her love for her family and her abilities in the wilderness, provide a positive model for Tom during his childhood. She carefully imparts her knowledge of the old Ute ways to her son and emphasizes their importance. Predicting that Blue Elk will attempt to lure her son from the wilderness and from the lifestyle in which she believes, she warns Tom of the threat Blue Elk presents immediately before her death. Bessie also reappears throughout the novel in Tom's thoughts and dreams, as a reminder of the past that he has abandoned.