Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Chapter 17

By Dorothy Allison

Chapter 17

  • Reese can only think of wanting a black dress for Ruth's funeral, but Bone thinks about the summer she spent with Ruth and how, in the end, she hadn't been able to tell her about Glen.
  • Anney seems to think that keeping Bone out of the house and being patient with Glen will fix things, but Glen's abuse never goes away.
  • The day before the funeral, Bone is on the porch and doesn't hear Glen calling her. He drags her to the bathroom to beat her, while Anney screams on the other side of the door. Glen beats Bone savagely, but Bone resolves not to scream.
  • Afterwards, Anney is helping clean Bone up the blood and asks her why she had to yell at Glen like that. Her lipstick is smeared and her hands are shaking.
  • The night before the funeral Bone stays over with Raylene at Ruth's place. She is careful not to let Raylene see her legs.
  • On the morning of the funeral, Bone goes out to the porch where Ruth's daughter Deedee is sitting in her nightgown with her hair still in pin curls. Deedee comments on the music playing on the radio, saying that she hates hillbilly music, even though it was all Ruth would listen to. Deedee tells Bone that Ruth loved her (Bone) more than she loved Deedee.
  • When Raylene comes out and tells Deedee to go get ready, Deedee says that she isn't going to the funeral. Raylene slaps her across the face and tells her that she can whine about her mother that night or the next day, but right now she is going to the funeral so that she won't regret it in ten years. Deedee runs upstairs.
  • Earle shows up to the funeral drunk and with a young girl. Beau also smells like whiskey but looks sober. When he complains that the funeral hasn't started, Raylene says it's because they're waiting for Ruth's boys (Tommy Lee, Dwight, and D.W) to show up.
  • Beau doesn't think that they'll come, but Raylene just says that Travis (Ruth's husband) is just trying to do everything as Ruth would have wanted it. Earle and Beau go out to the truck to drink, which makes Alma angry, but Raylene just says to let them take care of each other.
  • Bone sees her cousin Butch at the gravesite and goes to stand by him. She sees Granny looking empty-eyed and slack-jawed and comments that the doctor must have given her something. Nevil, Earl, and Beau wait for the hearse to pull up so that they can carry the casket. Bone sees Dwight and D.W., but not Tommy Lee. Most of the rest of the family is there, but most of the seats are filled with women from Ruth's church.
  • After the funeral, Butch and Bone are sitting in the backyard at Ruth's place while Butch drinks whiskey and beer on the sly.
  • Butch gives Bone some whiskey, and she drinks deeply. When Butch refills his cup with beer, Bone downs that too. Butch asks her if she's trying to get drunk, and Bone responds by saying that they could get more whiskey from Earle or Beau.
  • Butch and Bone talk about the music Ruth loved, while Bone continues to drink.
  • Butch suddenly gets angry about how he and Deedee are emotionally handling Ruth's death. He kisses Bone on the mouth and asks her how old she is.
  • Bone is almost thirteen, and Butch says that he always liked her because she wasn't a fool like everybody else. He tells her not to make more out of the kiss than there is.
  • Bone gets up and carefully goes inside, experiencing drunkenness for the first time. Everyone is busy downstairs, and Bone goes down the hall into the bathroom.
  • While Bone's on the toilet, Raylene opens the door. Bone tries to stand up, but she's too drunk and falls back down.
  • Raylene laughs at Bone's drunkenness. As she is helping Bone stand up, something changes in her grip. Bone looks at Raylene, who is staring at Bone's panties where there is the brown stain of blood. She lifts Bone's skirt and sees the wounds on her thighs.
  • Raylene drags Bone into Deedee's empty bedroom and screams for Earle and Beau. Bone begs her not to, but Raylene tells her to be quiet and that no one is ever going to hurt her again.
  • Earle comes and sees Bone's wounds. Raylene says that she'll kill Glen.
  • Beau and Nevil come in and see Bone's legs, as well. Down the hall, there is a scream, a crash, and Earle shouting at Glen that he'll murder him. Beau and Nevil turn together toward the noise.
  • Anney comes in and holds Bone to her, telling her that it will all be all right.
  • Raylene asks Anney if Glen beats her too, but Anney says that Glen would never, that he loves her, that he loves Bone, and that she (Anney) loves him. Bone clings to Anney as she hears the sounds of her uncles beating up Glen on the porch.

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