Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Chapter 18

By Dorothy Allison

Chapter 18

  • While Glen is in the hospital, Anney moves herself and the girls to an apartment over the Fish Market, not far from Woolworth's. Bone walks by and sees Tyler Highgarden looking stressed as windows and inventory are replaced.
  • Bone thinks that maybe she would have told Anney what she had done, but Anney isn't speaking to her.
  • The new apartment is small, Reese is angry, and Anney is silent. Bone feels like it's all her fault.
  • Glen shows up at the diner to try and talk to Anney, but she refuses. She applies for a job at the mill, even though Bone knows that she hates it there.
  • Bone goes outside and cries. She remembers how the last time Anney left Glen, it only lasted for a few days. She wonders how long it will last this time.
  • Anney doesn't let the girls go where she can't keep an eye on them. When Raylene comes over to try to talk to Anney, Anney tells her to leave them all alone for a while and doesn't let her in.
  • Bone hears Anney crying on the couch when she's supposed to be sleeping.
  • One morning, Bone goes to Anney seeking some kind of affection, but when Anney emotionlessly comforts her, Bone slaps her hand away and goes into the bedroom, where she refuses to speak. Anney becomes irritated with Bone.
  • Bone thinks about when Glen started to abuse her and wonders why Glen has always hated her. As she masturbates, she thinks about how little it mattered that she hadn't cried the last time Glen beat her. She remembers how Glen had pressed into her and wonders if he had been aroused while he was beating her. The thought makes her feel sick.
  • Bone cries herself to sleep and dreams about being younger, when she was unquestioning about Anney's love. She wakes up calling for her mother, but Anney has gone to work.
  • Bone looks at her hands and thinks about a purifying fire burning Greenville. She masturbates to the thought.
  • When Bone wakes up in the afternoon, she finds a note from Anney in the kitchen that tells her not to go anywhere. Anney will be home by dark, and that they can talk then.
  • Bone is fearful and doesn't know what to say, so she leaves.
  • Flashback! Fay, Nevil's wife, had been the one to drive Glen to the hospital after Bone's uncles had beaten him up. Glen had been silent through the whole thing. When Anney had taken Bone downstairs to leave, none of the uncles looked at her, though Earle embraced both of them until Anney pushed him away. Raylene and Alma kept trying to get Anney to stay with one of them, but she stopped them and just said that she knew what she had to do.
  • Bone and Reese spent the night in the car while Anney packed things up at the house. Then Anney drove the family to the train station; they slept in the parking lot there. At daylight, Anney took the girls to the diner while she went to rent an apartment. She moved so quickly that there was no time to ask what was happening, but Bone knew.
  • Back from the flashback, Bone sings as she walks to Raylene's house.
  • Raylene is gardening on her porch and doesn't seem surprised to see Bone. She mentions that Earle is staying on her couch after the young girl at the funeral kicked him out.
  • Bone says that Anney told Glen that Earle has become a cradle robber. She is surprised to hear herself mention Glen.
  • Raylene complains about the young women Earle goes for, whom he doesn't have to impress.
  • Bone tries to defend Earle, but Raylene says that it's cruel how he takes up with women briefly and then never divorces them. She comments on how many children he has probably fathered and scoffs at Bone when she says that Earle told her none.
  • Bone gets very defensive of Earle and says that he only marries those girls because they want it so badly, and that he loves them more than they deserve. Raylene tells Bone that she is seriously confused about love.
  • Bone asks Raylene how she's supposed to know anything about love when she comes from a family as ignorant and stupid as the Boatwrights. Raylene puts her hand on Bone's wrist and tells her that everybody is the same and just doing the best they can.
  • Bone replies that other people don't do things like get drunk and shoot each other, leave their husbands in the middle of the night, or live on the edge of town and sell junk by the side of the road.
  • Raylene crosses her arms and tells Bone that when she is thirty and supporting her own children and struggling to make ends meet, then maybe she can yell at Raylene. She tells Bone to go inside to clean up for supper, and that the biggest reason why she lives the way she does is because out there she can do as she pleases. She looks out past the highway like she is going to cry, but doesn't let herself do it.
  • Before she falls asleep, Bone imagines walking on an endless highway that goes north, with no one stopping her or calling to her.
  • After three days at Raylene's, Anney calls and tells Bone that she either needs to come home or start school there.
  • Reluctantly, Bone goes back to the apartment.
  • Anney doesn't talk to Bone about leaving, but sometimes Bone catches her looking at her with a painful, concentrated expression.
  • Reese tells Bone that Raylene and Anney almost got into a yelling match over the phone when Bone left, but that Anney gave in, saying that she didn't know what to do with Bone. Reese says that she doesn't know how Bone stands Anney being so angry with her, and Bone silently thinks that she doesn't understand it, either.
  • Two days later, Alma's sick baby girl dies. Raylene stays with Reese and Bone while Anney goes over to comfort Alma.
  • Bone hears Anney say that Alma loved Annie (the baby girl), even though she maybe knew that she was going to die, and it reminds Bone of Granny telling her how Anney had taken baby Bone down to the courthouse to get her birth certificate changed. Granny had said that Bone couldn't know how much Anney loved her, and thinking about Alma and Ruth and their children, Bone wonders if Anney still loves her. She also wonders what she will do when they inevitably go back to Glen.
  • Raylene and Reese make blackberry cobbler.
  • Raylene tries to talk to Bone about the paint-by-numbers sets she and Reese have, but Bone goes outside to watch cars pass.
  • Bone sees a bus full of children from Bushy Creek Baptist and glares at them hatefully.
  • When Raylene comes out, Bone tells her that she hates the way the kids look at her as if she's nasty. Raylene retorts that they look at Bone the way she looks at them. She tells Bone that she doesn't know anything about those children, and that because they are different, Bone assumes that they are rich and cruel. She points out that they could be looking at Bone with envy as she eats blackberry cobbler, and they could fearful of what she thinks about them.
  • Raylene tells Bone that instead of making up stories about other people, she should imagine what it's like to live in their houses.
  • Bone confronts Raylene about the rumor that she ran off with a carnival man she wasn't married to. Angrily, Raylene says that she did run off with a carnival—but for herself. She warns Bone about making her life out of pride and stubbornness and too much anger and tells her that she had better think hard about what she's mad at.
  • Raylene goes back inside, and Bone imagines being back in the West Greenville house that Anney loved. She imagines Glen joining the Pentecostal Church, getting a job that keeps him away from home, and Anney finding a relaxing job. She imagines a new dress for Reese, books for herself, Anney happy, and Glen coming home only often enough to make Anney smile. Bone falls asleep to this if-only dream.

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