Salvage the Bones

by Jesmyn Ward

Start Free Trial

In Salvage the Bones, how do Esch's ideas of motherhood evolve? How do Mama and China influence her?

Quick answer:

Esch develops her ideas of motherhood from memories of her own mother and from watching China with her puppies. In the first chapter of the novel, the reader learns that Esch's mother died shortly after birthing the youngest of the family's four children. Esch was only 8-years-old when her mother died, so she was powerless to help. From this experience, Esch learns that motherhood is hard and sacrificial--when in Chapter 3 Esch learns that she herself is pregnant, all she thinks about is how sick her condition is making her.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Salvage the BonesEsch develops her ideas on motherhood from memories of her own mother and from watching China with her puppies.  In the first chapter of the novel, the reader learns that Esch's mother died shortly after birthing the youngest of the family's four children.  Esch was only 8-years-old when her mother died, so she was powerless to help.  From this experience, Esch learns that motherhood is hard and sacrificial--when in Chapter 3 Esch learns that she herself is pregnant, all she thinks about is how sick her condition is making her.  But along the way, Esch watches China care for her puppies:  at times China is loving and protective, and at others she dismisses pups that instinctively she knows will not live.  So Esch learns that motherhood can be loving and affectionate even though it is hard.  By the end of the novel, Esch has made peace with her pregnancy, especially after her family and friends agree to serve as father-figures for the baby and as support for Esch.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial