Salvage the Bones

by Jesmyn Ward
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Chapter 2 Summary

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Last Updated on March 31, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 479

“The Second Day: Hidden Eggs”

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The morning after China gives birth, Esch wakes to the sound of hammering. Skeetah is outside building a kennel for the puppies—he is amazed that China gave birth to five living puppies and wants to see them thrive. Skeetah does not want to abandon the task, so Esch goes off alone to look for breakfast. Her mother taught her how to scan the yard for hidden eggs, but for Esch, the task is still hard work that requires concentration. Esch thinks that the only two things that have ever been easy for her to do are swimming and sex. She lost her virginity at age twelve to Skeetah’s best friend, Marquise, in the backseat of her father’s dump truck. She learned to swim when she was six—her father had picked her up and thrown her in the Pit, but she did not get pulled down by the water and used her limbs to stay on the surface.

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At the breakfast table, Junior is pouting because he does not want to eat the eggs and prefers to eat dry noodles. Esch takes out the plate of eggs to Skeetah so that China can eat them instead. Esch notices that the dog’s teats look like human breasts, and suddenly she runs outside the shed and vomits in the dirt.

Later, Big Henry arrives and Daddy tries to scam beer off him. Skeetah comes from the shed and says that he needs to buy dog food, so Big Henry offers a ride and Esch tags along with them. They go to the grocery store in St. Catherine, which is packed with people buying provisions for the impending hurricane. Inside, Esch sneaks off to hide a pregnancy test in the band of her shorts, and Skeetah broods over the dog food; he must get the most expensive brand. On the way home, the trio witnesses a car accident. A man has run his car into a tree, and a woman is lying on the road like she is sleeping. The man appears disoriented, so Big Henry offers assistance. He takes the man’s cellular telephone to give directions to the 911 operator, who asks him to remain at the scene until help arrives. Skeetah is angry. He assumes the man and the woman are having an affair and therefore not worthy of their help; besides, he wants to return to help China with her puppies. Big Henry makes them stay.

At home, Esch thanks Big Henry for the ride. In the bathroom, Esch runs water for the tub and pees on the stick of the pregnancy test. She sets it on the edge of the tub as she climbs in, careful not to knock it into the water. The two lines turn blue, and Esch recalls the directions on the package. She is pregnant.

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