Salvage the Bones

by Jesmyn Ward

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Chapter 10 Summary

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Last Updated on March 31, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 594

“The Tenth Day: In the Endless Eye”

Esch eats all of Skeetah’s eggs and bologna because he has stayed outside in the shed with China. Randall curses and throws a can of tomato paste across the room after he counts the meager food supplies that are stored for the family. After breakfast, Esch overhears Randall telling Daddy that they do not have enough food, and Daddy tells him that if they cannot cook during the storm, then they will have to eat the Ramen noodles dry. He adds that they will make do with what they have. He then asks for his wedding ring, and Esch retrieves it from her drawer. He goes back to his room because he is the only one who can stand being inside the boarded-up house; meanwhile, all the children go outside. There is no sun, and the wind blows hard. Skeetah is piling things outside the shed while China chases the chickens. Esch says that they need more food. Randall suggests that they look for more eggs and boil them so that they do not have to go to the refrigerator. Skeetah does not join them because he says that he needs to exercise China. In the woods, the chickens have hidden their eggs away in preparation for the coming storm. Esch thinks back to when her mother taught the kids how to find eggs—Randall finds them in the most difficult places and fills Junior’s shirt with twenty-four eggs to carry home.

As they approach home, Randall, Esch, and Junior meet Manny. He apologizes to Randall for having gotten into a fight with Skeetah. Randall says that Skeetah believes that Manny wanted to poison China and that he is “dogging” Esch. Manny denies it and says that he considers them family. But Randall says that he does not think Manny regards his siblings as family, and he retires to the kitchen. Manny walks away, but Esch calls to him and blurts out that she is pregnant. Manny shakes his head and says that the baby is not his. Esch has always been a fighter; now she pounces on Manny, poking his Adam’s apple and clawing his face. She screams that she once loved him; in defense, he calls her crazy. Manny then grabs Esch under her arms and flings her backward. Manny calls her a slut and says that even her brothers know that she has slept with every boy in the Pit. Esch tells him that when the baby is born, the truth will be known.

Randall later finds Esch sitting in the ditch. She is crying, but she says that nothing is wrong when he asks her. He says that they need to go through the woods to the white people’s house to steal food. No animals appear in the woods, and no one is home when they get to the house. Randall kicks through the plywood and glass in one window, but when they peer inside, they see that the woman has removed everything from the house. They silently walk back home. When they get there, Skeetah brings the dogs inside his and Randall’s bedroom and says that they cannot stay in the shed during the hurricane. Randall tells Daddy, and after some debate, they decide that Skeetah will stay with the dogs in the bedroom, and Randall will sleep with Junior and Esch in the living room. Daddy says that the reporters are now calling the hurricane a category 5. Skeetah says that everything deserves a chance to live.

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