Study Guide

Bastard Out of Carolina Society and Class

By Dorothy Allison

Society and Class

Drinking and fighting, getting thrown in jail, getting the furniture repossessed… the Boatwrights certainly seem like they're trying to live up to the trash stereotype. At the same time, it looks like the good people of Greenville County like to lay it on thick with the name-calling. The Boatwrights aren't innocent in all of this either: they have their own superiority complex when it comes to race. It seems like everybody needs someone to look down on in Bastard Out of Carolina. It's like everyone has to make sure they're not at the very bottom of the totem pole. You'd think that the Boatwrights would have some empathy, right? Thankfully, we have our sharp protagonist Bone to call a spade a spade and make the connection between types of bigotry.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Why do you think people are so eager to put down the Boatwrights?
  2. Why do you think Bone cares so much about what people call her and her family? Do you think she cares about it more than her other family members do? Why?
  3. How does being called trash affect Bone in the novel?
  4. If the Boatwrights know what it's like to be looked down on, why doesn't that stop them from being racist?

Chew on This

Being thought of as trash defines Bone's life.

Bastard Out of Carolina is as much about class as it is about child abuse.

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