Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Chapter 12

By Dorothy Allison

Chapter 12

  • After her falling-out with Shannon, Bone loses her religion.
  • Reese has grown older and now has become tomboyish and argumentative with Bone.
  • Bone notices that Reese has started masturbating as often as Bone herself does. Each seems to know what the other is doing, and they give each other privacy.
  • Bone also sees Reese playing in the woods one day with a sheet tied around her like a cape, imagining attackers. Both Bone up in the tree and Reese on the ground separately play-imagine that they are being sexually assaulted.
  • Things are tense these days: Bone and Reese are fighting, Glen has had his route changed to a partial schedule and is fighting with his father, and Alma and Wade are fighting, so Anney decides to send Bone to stay with her Aunt Raylene. Bone says that Anney has never sent her to Raylene's before, and Anney gets defensive about what other people might have said to her about Raylene.
  • Garvey gives Bone a ride to Raylene's, all the while telling her about his new job with a mechanic. Bone thinks about how Grey and Garvey aren't smart, and how they'll eventually quit school and wind up in jail for something silly. She contemplates the possibilities of her own future and thinks about how bleak it is.
  • Raylene is different from her other sisters: she's unmarried, childless, and keeps to herself, living out past the city limits. Earle tells Bone that Raylene was wild when she was young and ran off with a carnival. Butch tells Bone that when Raylene was with the carnival she cut her hair, dressed as a man, and called herself Ray.
  • Bone is envious of how men can go roaming around and admires that Raylene did it, but she still notes that Raylene has some scars behind her ear that she won't talk about and that she sometimes gets a sad, thoughtful look on her face.
  • Raylene doesn't keep a very active social calendar, but Ruth says that she is perfectly satisfied with her own company. The uncles and boy cousins drop by her place often. Raylene is also said to be the best cook in the family.
  • Back in the day, people would throw their trash into the river, and it rises around Raylene's house. Raylene puts Bone to work helping her collect it, and then gives her a cut of what she earns selling it on the side of the road. Raylene likes Bone because she's not afraid to take chances or get dirty.
  • One day, Bone's cousin Patsy Ruth is helping her collect river trash when she finds something big and shiny.
  • Thus begins the saga of the hooks.
  • There are two hooks, each four-pronged. Grey insists that they're for mountain climbing, but no one believes him. Nevertheless, they tie a rope to one and launch it at Raylene's house in an attempt to climb onto the roof.
  • This doesn't sit very well with Raylene, who is not very happy that holes have been gouged in her house. She tells the kids that the hooks are for trawling drowned bodies out of the river, and locks the hooks up in her cellar.
  • Bone dreams about the hooks and comes up with ghoulish stories about them until Patsy Ruth starts getting nightmares. Still, Bone wants to have the hooks near her.
  • Bone starts spending a lot of time at Raylene's, helping her can fruits and vegetables, and one day she sneaks down to the cellar and brings up one of the hooks. In the kitchen, Anney and Raylene are talking about Glen and how he is (yet again) struggling to make money.
  • Raylene complains that when she worked for the mill, they made her work on the line rather than letting her fix the machines, which she was better at.
  • Raylene then reminds Anney of the time the sheriff tried to take away Alma's furniture, and Alma started screaming and throwing her clothes at him. All the while, Alma's daughter Temple was standing in the yard as if nothing were happening, trying to get Alma out of the house quietly so that it wouldn't seem to the neighbors that they couldn't keep up their payments. Both women remark on the strange streaks of pride that children have.
  • Bone, looking at them, thinks about how old and worn they look, even though Anney is only twenty-five and Raylene less than a decade older. Bone wishes that she could be more like them, easier in her body and less angry.
  • One day, while Bone is helping Raylene can fruits and vegetables, Grey comes into the kitchen with a huge smile on his face, and Bone knows that he has found the hook. In order to get Grey on her side and swear him to secrecy, Bone tells Grey that she has a plan for the hook that he can't tell anyone about: she is going to use it to get up to the roof of Woolworth's and break in.
  • That night, Bone cleans and polishes the chain of the hook and masturbates with it, wrapping it around her and feeling safe.

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