Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Family

By Dorothy Allison

Family

Sometimes it feels like Bastard Out of Carolina could be made into a sitcom called Meet the Boatwrights—though it would probably have to be aired late at night. Bone has a very close relationship with her extended family. It's often a lot smoother than her relationship with her immediate family, that's for sure.

At the same time, life in Boatwright Land is Facebook-status complicated. Seriously, the Boatwrights have a—wait for it!—boatload of issues. Sometimes Bone gets frustrated by the Boatwrights' antics, and other times she wants to be more like them. One thing is for sure in this novel, though: like it or not, family matters.

Questions About Family

  1. What aspects of the Boatwrights does Bone admire, and what aspects does she dislike? Does this ever change?
  2. How does Bone's relationship with her family contrast with some of the other characters' relationships with theirs, like Shannon Pearl's, Reese's, or Glen's?
  3. "Family" can refer to both immediate family and extended family. What does "family" mean for Bone?
  4. What does it mean to be a Boatwright?

Chew on This

Bone is not really illegitimate because she has a huge, loving extended family to take care of her.

The Boatwrights have a warped sense of pride about what it means to be a Boatwright.

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