Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Chapter 5

By Dorothy Allison

Chapter 5

  • After they move, Glen tells Anney that when he has enough money, he's going to adopt Bone and Reese. Reese calls him "Daddy," but the word sounds strange to Bone, and she thinks about the incident in the hospital parking lot. When Bone cries, Anney gathers her up, and Bone sees Glen watching with his mouth set in a straight line and his eyes icy.
  • Glen doesn't like Bone and Reese listening to the stories Granny and Alma tell. He tells them they're his kids now. Glen's father owns a dairy, and his older brothers are a lawyer and a dentist. Glen tells Bone that Granny is a liar and warns her to stay away from her.
  • We meet Bone's favorite cousin Butch, who is a year older than Bone and different from the other cousins in that he has a strange sense of humor and no temper.
  • Butch and Bone talk about race in the Boatwright family. The issue of mixed race is something that people in Greenville County don't like to discuss. One of the girls from the Yarboro family (who are their own level of crazy) calls Bone the n-word, and Bone pokes her in the eye.
  • Reese's grandmother on her father's side, Mrs. Parsons, has a farm that Anney and the girls occasionally visit, even though Mrs. Parsons doesn't seem to think very much of Anney. Mrs. Parsons is your typical granny—she's soft-spoken and wears an apron. Bone can't help but compare her to her own riotous Granny.
  • Glen doesn't like the girls going up to see Mrs. Parsons, thinking that she bad-mouths them. Mrs. Parsons had two other sons who died within a year of Lyle and is left only with a distant daughter and some brothers waiting to sell off her land.
  • Glen is determined that Reese should get a share of the land, and when Mrs. Parson's brother, Matthew, comes by with some papers for Anney to sign, Glen takes the papers and says something to him out of Anney's hearing. After Matthew drives off (angrily), Anney nervously asks Glen if he said anything rude to him. Glen reassures Anney and tells her that they need to make themselves clear. He tells her not to sign anything if he's not there.
  • Mrs. Parsons calls later that night, and Glen takes the call. Anney goes out to the porch to smoke a cigarette. Anney tells Bone that sometimes you have to do things you wish you didn't have to, and that while she doesn't want to hurt Mrs. Parsons, she has to let Glen handle it. When Glen gets off the phone, he says that now they understand how it's going to be.
  • Two weeks later, Mrs. Parsons shows up while Glen is away and gives Anney two hundred and fifty dollars, claiming that it was for Lyle's time in the army (though it sounds like an excuse). Reese asks Mrs. Parsons if she's going to get a lot of money, and Mrs. Parsons responds that she won't, and that she doesn't care.
  • Anney invites Mrs. Parsons in for iced tea, and Mrs. Parsons cries that she was afraid that they weren't going to let her see Reese anymore. Anney is shocked, and the two of them embrace while Matthew waits in the truck with his head turned the other way.
  • After Mrs. Parsons comes inside, she relaxes a little, brushing Reese's hair and saying that she looks like her daddy. Reese keeps her father's picture hidden in her underwear drawer away from Glen, and she likes being compared to her pretty father. Bone is jealous that Reese has another side to her family.
  • The money she brought, says Mrs. Parsons, is all the money that there's going to be for Reese, because she signed her property over to Matthew after her sons died. Anney says she knows and that she had never expected to get anything.
  • Mrs. Parsons leaves with Matthew, and just as their truck is rounding the corner, who should appear but Glen. As he pulls into the driveway, everyone is tense. Glen demands if Anney signed anything, and she says that she would never unless he had looked at it first. Satisfied, he and the family go inside.
  • Earle jokes that when Glen's mad, he'll use his huge hands like pickaxes, and then he goes on to describe the big size of Glen's (ahem) other parts.
  • Glen seems to be jealous of the bond that Bone and Anney have, and he's always watching Bone whenever she gets close to Anney. Glen tearfully complains to Anney that Bone doesn't love him. Anney reassures him, and then they start to kiss. Bone goes outside because she knows that when they start to kiss they'll go into the bedroom for at least an hour.
  • Reese complains to Alma that Glen and Anney like to do it a lot, and Alma responds that everybody does. Bone thinks about sex, and wonders whether that was what Glen had been doing to her in the parking lot. She masturbates to a fantasy of being tied in a haystack that is on fire.
  • Glen doesn't do too well at his job, and he and Anney struggle to pay the bills. Glen keeps saying that his brother James will pay him for some work he did for him at his office, and when Glen is finally laid off, Anney suggests asking James for that money. Glen says that he can't, because James never asked for Glen's help or said anything about paying him. Seeing that he is frustrated, Anney reassures him that they can get help moving from her family.
  • The family moves at least every eight months into places that they can't afford. It makes Bone feel unimportant; they are always moving again before she even gets to know the names of her teachers at her new schools. One day, she gets so mad that she chops holes in her mother's dish barrels, and Anney scolds her by telling her how much they cost.
  • Money is always an issue in the household, and Anney is always juggling which bills can be paid and which will have to wait. Rent, food, clothes, and shoes are all expenses they can barely afford. Bone, now nine years old, suddenly wants patent shoes, but Anney laughs because both she and Bone know that it's way out of their price range.
  • Bone wishes that she could just act out instead of behaving all the time, but her mother's laughter shames her into silence. Bone feels self-conscious about how she and Reese dress compared to other girls and wonders if Anney cares. When she sees Anney balancing her checkbook, Bone knows that she cares and hates all of it.
  • One winter, the family stays with Alma, and Bone feels a new rage come onto her. At her new school she tells the teacher that her name is Roseanne Carter, and that she moved from Atlanta. She doesn't know why she lies, but is relieved when she moves again to a new school.
  • Earle loans some money to Anney, and Glen is infuriated. He screams at Anney that he's a grown man who can support himself and then doesn't speak to the family for a week. Earle says that Glen has too much pride and that everyone needs to help each other in this life. Bone thinks about how she has seen Earle less and less since Anney married Glen; she wishes they could just live with Earle.
  • That night, Glen sleeps on the couch and refuses to speak to anyone. His anger lasts for weeks, and he complains that nothing goes right for him. When Anney tries to reassure him at dinner one night, he screams at her to shut up.
  • Everyone freezes, and Reese begins to sob. Bone stands up, not sure about what she intended to do. Glen begins to cry and apologizes to Anney, who coos to him that it's all right. Glen looks at Bone and says that he knows how much Anney loves her. He squeezes her arm, giving her a bruise.
  • Anney exclaims that Glen doesn't know his own strength, and Glen says that he never meant to hurt Bone. Bone wonders about whether or not she believes him, and she thinks about Glen's fearful hands. They haunt her dreams.

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