Bastard Out of Carolina Summary
Dorothy Alison’s debut novel Bastard out of Carolina tells the story of Anne “Bone” Boatwright, growing up in Greenville, South Carolina in the 1950s. As the novel opens, Bone’s 15-year-old mother, Anney, is injured in a car accident, gives birth the baby girl, but unable to speak, it is found out that the baby is illegitimate, and has the word “bastard” stamped on her birth certificate.
Anney spends years trying to get the word bastard erased from Bone’s certificate, and is ridiculed by the customers at the diner where she works. After a brief marriage to Lyle, who is killed, Anney meets and marries Glen. At first, Glen is loving towards Bone, but soon becomes sexually abusive, often leaving Bone with bruises and broken bones. As the result of his anger issues, Glen loses his job and the family’s fortunes plummet.
When Anney discovers the abuse, she leaves Glen, who promises to reform his ways. Taken back, Glen resumes abusing Bone and eventually Glen’s two brothers beat him up after beating the girl once again. Anney leaves Glen again, and Bone declares that she will never stay under the same roof as Glen. Anney vows to Bone that she will not go back to Glen. Glen, angered, attacks and rapes Bone, but is discovered in the act by Anney. Glen once again begs Anney not to leave him, and caught between her daughter and her abusive husband, chooses Glen. In the hospital, Bone is visited by her aunt, who proudly displays her new birth certificate without the word illegitimate.