Salvage the Bones

by Jesmyn Ward

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What examples in chapter 2 of Salvage the Bones foreshadow Esch's pregnancy?

Quick answer:

In chapter 2 of Salvage the Bones, Esch thinks about Skeetah's dog, China, who has just given birth. She looks at China's puppies and her nipples, which are raw from nursing them, and wonders whether she, too, might be pregnant. She also thinks about losing her virginity and the sexual partners she has had since then. All these thoughts foreshadow her positive pregnancy test at the end of the chapter.

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At the beginning of chapter 2 in Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, Skeetah, Esch's brother, is building a kennel for his dog China's puppies, which were born the day before. He shows the litter to Esch, who think that the puppies look like chicks now that their coats have started to grow. This is the first instance of foreshadowing during the course of the chapter, in which Esch thinks about pregnancy, birth, and caring for young children.

It is while she is hunting for eggs, the ultimate symbol of new life, that Esch finds herself thinking about sex. She recalls losing her virginity at the age of twelve to Skeetah's best friend, Marquise, and then thinks of the other boys she has been with since then. When she has cooked the eggs, she gives them to Skeetah, who in turn gives them to China. China is nursing the puppies and her nipples are swollen, a sight which makes Esch feel sick. When she throws up, Skeetah tries to soothe her by rubbing her back in the same way that he comforts China, strengthening the connection between the two.

Later, on the drive home from the grocery store, Esch makes this connection explicit. Thinking of how she watched China give birth, she wonders if she could be pregnant herself. She reflects that she has missed two periods, often throws up, and has a heavy feeling in her stomach. Although she is briefly distracted by the terrible scene of the car accident, as soon as she is back at home, Esch takes the pregnancy test and finds that it is positive. She thinks in despair of the "terrible truth" which has been foreshadowed in her thoughts throughout the chapter and is now confirmed.

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