Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Appearances

By Dorothy Allison

Appearances

Wondering why people in Bastard Out of Carolina keep talking about Bone's black hair? Or why Bone is obsessed with how old her mother and aunts look? Well, appearances tell us a lot about a character, like how hard of a life they've had, who they are related to, and more (see our section on "Physical Appearances" on our "Character Clues" page). Bone is constantly wondering what her own appearance says about her, and what she looks like in the eyes of other people—with good reason, too. Bone is in the process of figuring out her identity, and appearances are a big party of identity, particularly when your appearance links you—or doesn't link you—to your family. As an "illegitimate" child, Bone's appearance separates her from her family as much as it connects her to it.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Are appearances in the novel deceiving or revealing? What are they for Bone, Glen, Anney, or Shannon Pearl?
  2. Why is everyone in the novel always talking about how everyone in the novel looks like everyone else in the novel?
  3. When Bone talks about Anney's or her aunts' or uncles' appearances, why does she always talk about it in terms of age (how old they look)?
  4. Does Bone look like a Boatwright? In what ways? In what ways is she different?

Chew on This

In this novel, people wear their hardship on them in a way that cannot be covered up; that is why Bone is afraid that she has a mean, hard look.

Bone looks to her appearance to give her some sort of understanding of herself.

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