The novel Bastard out Of Carolina by Dorothy Allison is an unraveling tale of desperation and need. The story is set in Greenville, South Carolina in the 1950's amongst the impoverished Boatwright family, where the women work hard and the men drink harder. "Poor White Trash" is the most common term used to label this kind of family, but such a novel opens our eyes to a world we may look past or discriminately judge as the latter: "trash.".
We experience the book through the eyes of our narrator Bone as she grows up trying to cope with the existence of abuse. We go through the ups and downs of it all, her anger, guilt, loneliness, desperation, sadness and rationalization of it all. Dorothy Allison's raw exposure of child abuse cuts to the bone and reveals the desperation and suffering behind it.
Bone's stepfather Glen is the abuser; he is desperate and frustrated due to his status as an outcast. He never really fit in, he came from an affluent family and his brothers had all become very successful, one as an attorney the other a dentist. Glen only worked in plants and drove trucks. He didn't belong in his own family, a fact his own father let him know: "We knew that he (Glen) would not have the nerve to leave until his daddy had lectured him on all the things Glen had done wrong in his long life of failure and disappointment"(90).
Glen couldn't keep a job. His quick temper and impatient nature always got him in trouble. "Daddy Glen didn't do too well at RC Cola. He kept getting transferred to different routes or having to pay for breakage there never seemed to be enough money to pay the bills."(p.63.) Throughout the novel Glen couldn't hold a job and eventually had to go work for his malicious and demeaning father.
Glen wasn't like the Boatwrights either and never really fit in with the family. They respected his temper but were weary because he kept a part of himself hidden. "That Glen's got something about him the boy could turn like whiskey in a bad barrel " (p.