Bastard Out of Carolina

by Dorothy Allison

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At the end of Bastard Out of Carolina, how does Bone feel about her mother, herself, and her future?

Quick answer:

At the end of the book, Bone wonders who her mother was and what her dreams were prior to getting pregnant with her at age 14. Anney is hard to read, and only her actions seem to describe her. Since her last action was choosing Bone's abuser over her own daughter, Bone realizes the chaos of the Boatwright legacy and realizes that she has inevitably become a part of what seems like a generational curse.

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In the final chapters of Dorothy Allison's novel Bastard Out of Carolina, Bone is still recovering from the brutal rape she suffers at the hands of her stepfather, Daddy Glen. We know that her mother is, at first, quite supportive of Bone. She physically attacks Glen in defense of her daughter, and gets her ready to go to the hospital.

However, we are shocked to see that Glen manages to weasel himself into Anney's emotional vulnerability and convinces Anney to hold him tight as he begs her not to leave him.

All this is happening right in front of Bone's eyes, she lies down wrapped up in sheets inside the car waiting to be taken to the hospital, still suffering this recent rape that happened minutes ago and still hurting from the brutal beat up performed by the very man that her mother is holding tight!

This shocks Bone as much as it shocks the reader. We later learn that mom simply leaves Bone in the hospital, turns around, and is not seen again until later in the chapter.

All of this causes a lot of emotion in Bone. Her own mother has betrayed her. Her own mother has chosen her rapist over her. Her own mother has abandoned her. On top of the physical pain she has to endure, she has the added emotional anger against her rapist and the emotional angst against her mother.

All of this leads Bone to question what could have possibly happened in her mother's life to make her the way she is. She knows that her mother had her at age 14, but that Bone's father had gone away and left her. She knows that her second relationship, Lyle Parsons, the father of Anney's second child, Reese, died when Anney was still a young teenage wife. All this leads Bone to think that she simply "turned" her mother's life when she was born. That she may have been the agency of ruin that continues to ruin here mother's life:

Once I was born, her hopes had turned, and I had climbed up her life like a flower reaching for the sun. Fourteen and terrified, fifteen and a mother, just past twenty-one when she married Glen. Her life had folded into mine.

Naturally, Bone questions if this would be her own fate, as well. After all, every member of the Boatwright family has left an ugly mark in the annals of the town's history. They are chaotic, crazy, and out of control:

What would I be like when I was fifteen, twenty, thirty? Would I be as strong as she had been, as hungry for love, as desperate, determined, and ashamed?

Now, as her mother places the birth certificate that shows that there is "no father" willing to recognize Bone, she sees that her role is to be part of that generational curse. She is a Boatwright, indeed. Chaos has come for her, and it may pervade her life unless she changes her own fate. All she knows now is that she is definitely nothing but a bastard out of Carolina, a true member of the Boatwright family.

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