Bastard Out of Carolina
by Dorothy Allison
In this story, the girl is the protagonist. She is a troublemaker. At the beginning of the story her mama told her to never to steal. Yet, she still stole the tootsie rolls. As much as she respects her mom, she doesn't listen to her council. One reason why she would want to disobey is her wish to be independent, "wishing I too knew how to take care of myself and could break locks or start cars without a key," (77). She feels like stealing is a way of being independent so she does steal. When she is taken to the store by her mama in order to learn her lesson, she doesn't, but instead becomes very angry and holds a grudge whenever she sees the store. This story is told through her actions and thoughts.
The girl's mama is very responsible for her. Mama wants to make sure that her daughter does the right thing: "'Don't you ever let me catch you stealing,' Mama commanded," (75). When she learns that her daughter stole, she sits and thinks about it. This shows that she is calm in hard situations. She is a proud mother and wants to raise good children. She is also willing to do hard things for her children, "I hate it. You hate it. You might hate me for it... But I just don't know no other way to do it," (79). She explains this to her daughter when she takes her to the store. She is very responsible and reasonable based on her reactions to her daughter's mistake.
The manager is described through the girl's point of view and what he says. She sees him as being big and fat. Immediately, she hates him. After he bans her from his store she describes him as a "honey-greased bastard" (80). She wants to hurt him because he took away something she had stolen. He wants to do things right since he wants the girl to learn the lesson of not stealing. She bring herself to though. Even though he wants her to learn her lesson, he is unreasonable since he is punishing a young girl (about nine years old) for stealing a little candy by banning her. It is because of her hatred towards him, that the picture of him that the reader sees is an awful person.
- Exposition: This story begins when the girl's mama catches her stealing. The girl had stolen and then proceeded to lie to her mama, who had previously told her to never steal.
- Rising Action: Her mama decides to take her to the store to return the tootsie rolls that she stole.
- Conflict: When the girl returns the candy she meets the manager. When he takes back the candy and money for the candy she ate, she becomes angry and wants to hurt him, "I felt outraged.I wanted to kick him or throw up on him or scream his name in the street," (80). The manager then bans her from the store until she can learn her lesson. This part of the story is extremely intense since you can feel all of the girl's emotion.
- Falling Action: After the manager bans her, the girl's emotions settle into one clear emotion: rage. She starts to understand that she and her mother would never choose to go to the store.
- Resolution: After this experience, when she passes the store the, "hunger and rage" that she had previously felt come back to her (81).
Should we Learn from our Mistakes?
This story had many themes mixed into it. This feature of it makes the story worth while to read. It is very interesting to read and find the different layers of themes in the short story.The author's writing causes the reader to continue to think about what the theme is after they read it. They create questions like: Would I steal? How would I react to the manager? Do I learn from my mistakes? We are faced with the choice to learn from our mistakes daily. These are important questions to ask ourselves from such a simple story about a girl who steals tootsie rolls.