After the death of her grandmother, Durr's parents advanced in Birmingham society, joining the country club and other social organizations. She repeatedly returns to the issues surrounding southern female gender identity, especially for elite women. She talks about how her social circle dealt with issues of sexuality and describes the racial and class divisions that ran through Birmingham during her youth. As teenagers, Durr and her sister Josephine, along with many other young southern belles, were sent to New York City for finishing and socialization. While there, Josephine met and married Hugo Black, the future Supreme Court Justice. Durr asserts that while her sister and Hugo Black had a happy marriage, the relationship stifled something within her sister. Nevertheless, the other women in her family never questioned the roles and even averred that women who fought for more rights had immoral reasons. Durr managed to convince her parents to send her to Wellesley for two years. While there, she began to question many of the assumptions that had governed her relationships and behaviors while in Alabama. Because of financial problems, Durr left Wellesley after her sophomore year, returning home to spend a year as a debutante. When she failed to find an eligible offer that year, she took a job at the law library, where she met her future husband, Clifford.