Bastard Out of Carolina

by Dorothy Allison

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Chapters 1-6: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why is Anney (Mama) upset about Ruth Anne’s birth certificate?

2. What is the difference between the Boatwrights and Waddells?

3. What happens in the Pontiac while Mama is giving birth to a stillborn child?

4. In chapter six, what does Anney do when her children do not have enough to eat?

5. How does Bone describe Daddy Glen’s hands?

1. Mama is upset because Ruth Anne is registered as an illegitimate child, a bastard. Anney regards this label as a stigma for her and her daughter, implying that that they are “no-good, lazy, shiftless.”

2. The Boatwrights are laborers of low social status. One might refer to them, in a derogatory manner, as “white trash.” The men are often in and out of jail, and the women have many children at a young age. None of the Boatwrights has a large income. The Waddells are more established, respectable, and wealthy. They own a dairy. The oldest son is running for district attorney.

3. Glen molests Bone by masturbating with her pressed against his lap. Reese is asleep in the back seat during the incident.

4. Anney dresses provocatively, like a prostitute. Later, she appears with food. The implication is that she has sold her body to feed her children.

5. Glen’s hands are very strong. Bone constantly refers to his hands throughout the novel in a very ominous and threatening tone. The descriptions hint at violence. Additionally, Bone’s attention to his hands indicates her own premonitions that violence that will be directed at her.

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Chapters 7-11: Questions and Answers