In the book Bastard Out of Carolina, when Bone is born, Anney is fifteen, dirt poor, and married. With so many obstacles, why is she so focused on the birth certificate, which no one but her will...

In the book Bastard Out of Carolina, when Bone is born, Anney is fifteen, dirt poor, and married. With so many obstacles, why is she so focused on the birth certificate, which no one but her will see? How does she pass this preoccupation on to Bone?

Expert Answers
bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is considered a disgrace not to know who your father is and having "illegitimate" stamped on your birth certificate let the whole world know the circumstances of your birth. Anney knows that this word indicates shame and that Bone will be branded with it all her life if Anney doesn't get it removed.
As long as the birth certificate has that demeaning word on it, Bone will never be able to escape her past and start over. An unbranded birth certificate symbolizes Bone's rebirth.

It's also ironic that Anney is so intent on having Bone's birth certificate changed when she allows Glen to abuse her most of her life. At the end, Anney deserts Bone and then gives her the "clean" birth certificate. In her mind, Anney is giving Bone a gift of taking away the stigma of her birth. Anney has allowed Glen to take away Bone's innocence and childhood, and Bone will be branded with that abuse for the rest of her life.

simrit-hans | Student

At the start of the novel, Anney Boatwright wants a better life for her first daughter than the "white trash" upbringing that she had. Anney is confident and ambitious in the opening pages of the novel, and she seeks to better herself. We see this side of Anney slowly wane, which is why the birth certificate becomes so important at the end of the book. The fact that Anney was finally able to get the document changed, and gifts it to her child, shows us that she still cared for and sought to protect Bone. 

I think it's also important to notice, as you did in asking this question, that Anney does, in fact, become fixated with the birth certificate whilst simultaneously losing sight of her daughter. She becomes increasingly distant as a mother, and she believes that the birth certificate is a chance for her to redeem herself.