Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Coming of Age

By Dorothy Allison

Coming of Age

As our favorite anti-capitalization poet e. e. cummings says, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." That couldn't be truer for Bone in Bastard Out of Carolina, who has a whole slew of things she's dealing with during this period of her life, in addition to suffering the usual growing pains. If you head over to our "Genre" section, you'll see us explain why "coming of age" in this case doesn't necessarily mean literal adulthood but instead maturity—or, in this case, childhood left behind. Bone is only thirteen at the end of this novel, but she's way "older" than a lot of us were at that age.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. In what way(s) is Bone "of age" at the end of the novel?
  2. What are some of the key events that shape Bone's life, and what effects do they have?
  3. What are some of the reasons why Bone feels uncertain or insecure about herself and her future?
  4. What does Bone think about adulthood?

Chew on This

Who Bone thinks she "is" throughout the novel and who Bone thinks she is "going to be" are actually not so different.

Bastard Out of Carolina is not a coming-of-age novel.

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