A close reading of bastard out of carolina critical thinking examples


Dorothy Allison delivers the literary masterpiece with emphasis on thematic content and a narration using the first person. The book has no happy as it explores the experiences of growing in a poor family and a challenging setting. The author writes with bluntness and stark prose to paint a clear picture of the emotional and physical challenges experienced by the main character and the people around her. The first person narration manages to draw the author closer to her audience as it personifies and brings life into a book. Narrating in first person makes the reader feel as if they are experiencing a situation in the book. They can share in the happy moments of the book and yet sympathize the characters when they meet challenges at home and other places like school. The use of “ I” and “ We” is intentional and seeks an emotional reaction from the reader.


Ruth Anne Boatwright is the first person narrator in the book. She uses the nickname Bone, probably acquired from her peers. Bone’s birth happens in a car accident, and her mother persistently attempts to remove the word “ illegitimate” from her birth certificate until Bone reached thirteen years old. Her family is working, although most of the people referred to them as “ White trash”. Bone hates the children in the school bus she is looking at because they often neglect and discriminate her. On a similar note, she hates her stepfather and his family because they do not treat her or her sister well. They treat them like trash. The Woolworths manager, the Sheriff, and the nurse also pretend to be good people, but their condescension is still demeaning. Bone responds to the treatment by stealing from Woolworths and befriending Shannon Pearl, an albino. Shannon is like an outcast in the town yet she continues to daydream of becoming a star in gospel music.
In the end, Bone has to find safety and comfort within her family, even though her birth happened out of wedlock. However, safety is far from a reality because Daddy Glenn, her stepfather, batters and molests children. Unaware of the molestation, her mother agrees with the beating because she loves both Glenn and Bone. However, she has to choose either of them at the end of the book (Allison 2).


The second theme is sex. It is a major theme in the novel and readers would expect it to be their favorite theme. However, the author explores the topic in a manner that it has few acts, which have a big impact on the emotions of the reader. Sex is dark. It emerges through Bone’s molestation, masturbation, and even rape. The author also employs satire in this theme. Glenn is Bone’s stepfather yet he has unending sexual attraction towards her. The author talks about Glenn’s sex life and says, “ It was like sex, that food, too good to waste on the middle of the day and a roomful.”
Another important theme is social class. The Boatwright family lives in poverty as much as people refer to them as the working class. The name is ironical because the reader would expect the family to live lavishly if they were “ working class”. In the novel Bone laments, “ Mama hated to be called trash, hated the memory of every day she’d ever spent bent over other peoples’ peanuts and strawberry plants while they stood tall and looked at her like she was a rock on the ground.”
Another important theme is appearances. In the book, a person’s appearance count to the extent that people perceive the characters based on how they appear (A Reader’s Guide to the Works of Dorothy Allison: Cavedweller, Bastard Out of Carolina, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure 3). For instance, most of Bone’s schoolmates enjoyed teasing her because of the hair she had. In addition, they discriminated her because she appeared poor in her demeanor. In fact, appearance is clearer when the author talks about the albino. Most of her peers treated her like an outcast, and they wonder why Bone would want to be her friend.


It is one of the author’s important and emphatic style of writing. It refers to the use of specific choices of words to demonstrate a certain concept clearly to the reader (Alberg 4). The word must be accurate and right in a sense that it can apply appropriately in the context the author uses it. In the novel, the author uses the word “ trash” to show the state of poverty that Bone’s family endured. The word also explains the ironical nature of the term “ working class” because the Boatwright family is poor yet they are working. Moreover, the author also uses the word “ outcast” to show how discriminatory this society is. An albino is a normal person with a skin condition. Therefore, it is unfair for the other people to refer to her as an outcast and alienate her from her peers.

Works Cited

A Reader’s Guide to the Works of Dorothy Allison: Cavedweller, Bastard Out of Carolina, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure. New York: Plume, 1998. Print.
Alberg, Katherine A. Engendering Bodies in Pain: Trauma and Silence in Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina. N. p., 1994. Print.
Allison, Dorothy, Anthony Richmond, Anne Meredith, and Anjelica Huston. En Pige Fra Carolina: Bastard Out of Carolina. Kbh. N. p., n. d. Print.
Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina. New York: Dutton, 1992. Print.