What are the different significances of each character in Salvage the Bones?

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There are many characters in Salvage the Bones, and the author Jesmyn Ward employs some stereotypical characters in the interest of plot and thematic development.  An example of one of these stereotypical characters is Manny's girlfriend Shaliyah--she is only present in the story to provide a complication in the...

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There are many characters in Salvage the Bones, and the author Jesmyn Ward employs some stereotypical characters in the interest of plot and thematic development.  An example of one of these stereotypical characters is Manny's girlfriend Shaliyah--she is only present in the story to provide a complication in the relationship between Esch and Manny.  So here are some points that highlight the significant aspects of a few of the major characters in the novel. 

The protagonist and narrator Esch has been compared by many literary critics to the Greek character Medea.  In Greek literature, Medea was scorned by her husband Jason and killed her own children as a way to both posit a voice for herself and to avenge the wrongs that she felt were done against her.  Esch feels that Manny has wronged her by taking advantage of her for sex, and when she finds out that she is pregnant and that Manny wants nothing to do with her pregnancy, she considers methods of abortion.  Esch's character is significant because through her character, Ward is able to explore both the harsh and harmonious aspects of motherhood.  

Another significant character is Esch's brother Skeetah.  He is raising dogs for fighting, and although he basically sacrifices these dogs to the pits, at home, he takes fierce care of them.  It is Skeetah in the end who saves Esch from being swept away in the flood, so Skeetah's character is symbolic of a savior.  

Finally, although not as dynamic of a character as Esch and Skeetah, Manny is important to the story because his character represents a harsh patriarchal factor that Esch must learn to overcome.

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