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Bastard out of Carolina Study Guide

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Bastard Out of Carolina
Dorothy Allison
Online Information
For the online version of BookRags' Bastard Out of Carolina Premium Study Guide,
including complete copyright information, please visit:
http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-bastardoutcarolina/
Copyright Information
(c)2000-2007 BookRags, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The following sections of this BookRags Premium Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting
Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters,
Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further
Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.
(c)1998-2002; (c)2002 by Gale. Gale is an imprint of The Gale Group, Inc., a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Gale and
Design(R) and Thomson Learning are trademarks used herein under license.
The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: "Social Concerns",
"Thematic Overview", "Techniques", "Literary Precedents", "Key Questions", "Related Titles", "Adaptations", "Related
Web Sites". (c) 1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author",
"Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)
1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
All other sections in this Literature Study Guide are owned and copywritten by BookRags, Inc.
No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means graphic,
electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, Web distribution or information storage retrieval
systems without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents
Introduction...................................................................................................................1
Author Biography.........................................................................................................2
Plot Summary................................................................................................................3
Chapter 1.......................................................................................................................8
Chapter 2.....................................................................................................................10
Chapter 3.....................................................................................................................12
Chapter 4.....................................................................................................................14
Chapter 5.....................................................................................................................16
Chapter 6.....................................................................................................................18
Chapter 7.....................................................................................................................21
Chapter 8.....................................................................................................................23
Chapter 9.....................................................................................................................26
Chapter 10...................................................................................................................29
Chapter 11...................................................................................................................32
i

Table of Contents
Chapter 12...................................................................................................................34
Chapter 13...................................................................................................................36
Chapter 14...................................................................................................................38
Chapter 15...................................................................................................................40
Chapter 16...................................................................................................................42
Chapter 17...................................................................................................................43
Chapter 18...................................................................................................................46
Chapter 19...................................................................................................................49
Chapter 20...................................................................................................................51
Chapter 21...................................................................................................................53
Chapter 22...................................................................................................................54
Characters....................................................................................................................57
Aunt Alma Boatwright.......................................................................................57
Anney Boatwright...............................................................................................57
Uncle Beau Boatwright.......................................................................................58
Aunt Carr Boatwright.........................................................................................58
Uncle Earle Boatwright......................................................................................58
Uncle Nevil Boatwright......................................................................................59
ii

Table of Contents
Characters
Aunt Raylene Boatwright...................................................................................59
Aunt Ruth Boatwright.........................................................................................60
Ruth Anne Boatwright........................................................................................60
Bone....................................................................................................................60
Bone's Real Father..............................................................................................61
Deedee................................................................................................................61
Granny................................................................................................................62
Grey....................................................................................................................62
Lyle Parsons........................................................................................................62
Shannon Pearl.....................................................................................................62
Reese...................................................................................................................63
Uncle Travis........................................................................................................63
Daddy Glen Waddell..........................................................................................63
Uncle Wade Yarnall...........................................................................................64
Themes.........................................................................................................................65
Child Abuse........................................................................................................65
Family.................................................................................................................66
Poverty and Illegitimacy.....................................................................................67
Love....................................................................................................................68
Sexuality.............................................................................................................69
Style..............................................................................................................................71
Symbolism..........................................................................................................71
Point of View......................................................................................................72
Setting.................................................................................................................72
Language.............................................................................................................73
iii

Table of Contents
Historical Context.......................................................................................................74
A Prosperous Nation?.........................................................................................74
The South............................................................................................................74
Women in the 1950s...........................................................................................75
The Fledgling Civil Rights Movement...............................................................75
A Society of Conformity....................................................................................76
Critical Overview........................................................................................................77
Criticism.......................................................................................................................80
Critical Essay #1..........................................................................................................81
Critical Essay #2..........................................................................................................88
Critical Essay #3..........................................................................................................93
Media Adaptations......................................................................................................94
Topics for Further Study............................................................................................95
Compare & Contrast..................................................................................................96
What Do I Read Next?................................................................................................98
For Further Study.......................................................................................................99
iv

Table of Contents
Sources.......................................................................................................................100
Copyright Information.............................................................................................102
v

Introduction
Allison recounts the story of Ruth Anne "Bone" Boatwright, the illegitimate daughter
of a fifteen-year-old, unmarried, uneducated waitress. Bone's mother, a child herself,
desperately seeks love and familial stability, which she has never experienced in her
own large, unorthodox brood of kin. Anney's need for love is so strong that she turns a
blind eye to the abuse physical, emotional, and sexual that her second husband,
Daddy Glen, heaps upon her young daughter. Before even reaching the age of thirteen,
Bone has experienced a life's supply of disappointment, bitterness, self-hatred, and
even hatred for her mother. If Bastard Out of Carolina sharply affects many readers
because of the swell of truth behind the characters and their actions, that is partially
Allison's intention. For Allison once explained what storytelling meant to her in an
interview she gave to Alexis Jetter of The New York Times Magazine: "I believe that
storytelling can be a strategy to help you make sense of your life. It's what I've done."
Introduction
1

Author Biography
Dorothy Allison was born on April 11, 1949, in Greenville, South Carolina, to a poor,
unmarried fifteen-year-old girl. Her mother soon married, and when Allison was five
her stepfather began sexually abusing her. This situation lasted until Allison was
eleven, at which time she finally brought herself to tell a relative. Allison's mother
learned of the situation and put a stop to it, but the family still stayed together.
At the age of eighteen, Allison left home to attend college in Florida. At school she
learned about and came to embrace feminism, finding that it gave her a completely
different vision of the world. She lived in a lesbian-feminist commune for a period of
time. She later attended graduate school in New York.
Allison began writing seriously in the early 1980s. She published poetry and short
stories, many of which dealt with sexuality and sometimes shocking issues of abuse.
Her 1983 poetry collection The Women Who Hate Me angered mainstream feminists
in its praise of sexual promiscuity and sadomasochism. Despite the controversy her
work generated, she established a name for herself among writers of gay fiction. Her
success was solidified when her 1989 short story collection Trash won the Lambda
literary awards for best small press book and best lesbian book.
Allison also began work on Bastard Out of Carolina, which has a strong and public
autobiographical element. The novel, which was published in 1992, was an immediate
success. It was a National Book Award finalist, received much positive criticism, and
became a national bestseller. It was also made into a movie by Angelica Houston.
Allison followed up Bastard Out of Carolina with a collection of essays entitled Skin:
Talking about Sex, Class and Literature (1994); Two or Three Things I Know for Sure
(1995), a memoir of her family that included photographs; and a second novel,
Cavedweller (1998). Allison currently lives with her partner and their adopted son in
California.
Author Biography
2

Plot Summary
At fifteen years old, Anney Boatwright gives birth to her first baby out of wedlock.
The child comes to be called Bone. Anney stubbornly tries to legitimize her child. She
tries several years in a row to get a birth certificate that is not marked with the word
"illegitimate." When Anney is seventeen, she marries a man who wants to be a good
father to her child. Her first husband dies shortly thereafter, however, leaving her with
yet another daughter, Reese, to care for. Anney comes from a large family, most of
whom live in Greenville, South Carolina, and the family relies on each other for
money, help, and comfort.
Through her brother Earle, Anney meets Glen Waddell. Glen promises to love and
take care of her girls, which wins him Anney's love. Two years later, they marry.
Glen, however, is a failure. He comes from a middle-class family but cannot hold a
job. He is filled with rage against his own family, who make their dislike of him
apparent, and he takes out his frustrations and anger on Bone. He first sexually abuses
her less than a year after the marriage, masturbating against her while his wife gives
birth to their stillborn baby.
As Glen finds it increasingly impossible to hold a job, the family moves constantly,
and Bone and Reese are always hungry. One night Anney prostitutes herself to get
money to buy her children food. When Bone is ten, Daddy Glen starts viciously and
methodically beating her. He puts aside several belts, which he keeps well-oiled, for
this purpose. The family witnesses the first of his savage beatings. Anney gets angry at
Glen but forgives him. Bone quickly realizes that she must be careful around Glen to
not invoke his rage.
At times, however, she cannot keep herself from "sassing back." In reality, there is
nothing Bone can do to prevent the beatings. Anney insists on deluding herself that
Bone is simply "prone to accident," and gets furious when an intern at the hospital
raises the specter of child abuse. She begs Bone to "be more careful" around Glen.
Plot Summary
3

Around this time or perhaps even earlier, Glen's sexual abuse of Bone becomes a more
regular practice. Bone tells no one what he is doing to her because she is ashamed and
afraid of making him angry. She also has begun to masturbate, and her sexual
fantasies center on violent scenarios. She imagines that a crowd of people watch as
Glen beats her, but that she is defiant and unyielding. She feels great shame over these
fantasies but does not stop them.
After a bad beating, Anney takes her children to Alma's, but two weeks later, they
return home. Glen promises never to hurt Bone again, but she knows that he won't
really change. Bone and Reese go over to Alma's after school, and Anney comes there
to pick them up on her way home from work. Bone tells violent stories to her cousins,
filled with rapes and murders. The family notices that she has changed, that her face is
"scary" and that she is "almost mean-hearted." Bone starts going to the diner with
Anney. She earns money washing dishes and spends most of it buying used books.
That summer, Bone goes to stay with and help out Aunt Ruth and Uncle Travis. Aunt
Ruth has a debilitating illness and she has grown weaker. Bone realizes that Ruth is
dying. Bone tells Ruth that Daddy Glens hates her, and Ruth agrees, noting that Glen
is jealous of her and wants Anney all to himself. She asks Bone if Glen has ever
sexually abused her, but Bone lies and says no. She does admit that he scares her,
however. While Bone is at Ruth's, Glen gets a new job, and according to Anney, is
"good as gold with Reese," but he never mentions Bone; it's as if she no longer exists.
Ruth tells Anney that Bone will never be safe around Glen, but Anney insists that he
does love her. Bone overhears this conversation and decides to spend the rest of the
summer with Ruth.
Bone becomes interested in gospel music and religion. She starts reading the Bible,
going to Christian youth groups, and trying to save her family, particularly her uncles.
She becomes friends with Shannon Pearl, an albino who starts attending her school.
Bone recognizes Shannon from the revivals that Shannon also attends with her family
- her father books singers for the circuit and her mother sews costumes for the singers.
Bone goes with the Pearls to gospel revivals and when Mr. Pearl is searching for new
Plot Summary
4

Document Outline

  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Author Biography
  • Plot Summary
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8
  • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 11
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13
  • Chapter 14
  • Chapter 15
  • Chapter 16
  • Chapter 17
  • Chapter 18
  • Chapter 19
  • Chapter 20
  • Chapter 21
  • Chapter 22
  • Characters
    • Aunt Alma Boatwright
    • Anney Boatwright
    • Uncle Beau Boatwright
    • Aunt Carr Boatwright
    • Uncle Earle Boatwright
    • Uncle Nevil Boatwright
    • Aunt Raylene Boatwright
    • Aunt Ruth Boatwright
    • Ruth Anne Boatwright
    • Bone
    • Bone's Real Father
    • Deedee
    • Granny
    • Grey
    • Lyle Parsons
    • Shannon Pearl
    • Reese
    • Uncle Travis
    • Daddy Glen Waddell
    • Uncle Wade Yarnall
  • Themes
    • Child Abuse
    • Family
    • Poverty and Illegitimacy
    • Love
    • Sexuality
  • Style
    • Symbolism
    • Point of View
    • Setting
    • Language
  • Historical Context
    • A Prosperous Nation?
    • The South
    • Women in the 1950s
    • The Fledgling Civil Rights Movement
    • A Society of Conformity
  • Critical Overview
  • Criticism
  • Critical Essay #1
  • Critical Essay #2
  • Critical Essay #3
  • Media Adaptations
  • Topics for Further Study
  • Compare & Contrast
  • What Do I Read Next?
  • For Further Study
  • Sources
  • Copyright Information

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