Bastard Out of Carolina Questions and Answers
by Dorothy Allison

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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?

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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...

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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.