Bastard Out of Carolina

by Dorthy Allison

The Struggle.

A young girl is caught stealing by her mother. Throughout the story she is faced with both an internal and external conflict. Inside, she battles with herself on what is right and moral. She has a difficult time figuring out that doing what is right, is better than her own wishes. The young girl knows that stealing candy is wrong, however, she doesn't care. This is mainly because she wanted candy, and didn't think about the consequences when she was first stealing. Outside, her mother is teaching her a lesson. She tells her daughter stories from her past, that teach the young girl this lesson, and finally sends her to return the candy to the store.

The Plot

Exposition: In the beginning the young girl is caught stealing. She attempts to lie about it, however her mother can see right through her. Her mother, being disappointed in her, begins to tell her a story about her cousin who stole.

Rising action: As her mother finishes this story, she drives her daughter to the store she stole from. The mother begins to tell another story, this one about herself. She tells her daughter how when she was younger she worked at a strawberry farm. She would hide the unripe strawberries under the good ones, to make her work easier. She was caught later lying about this. Her mother punished her. This showed the young girl that lying had consequences.

Climax: The young girl is forced to return the candy by her mother. At first she is remorseful, but then she gets angry. She is mad that her mother would make her return the candy, mad that she can't have the candy, and mad that after all this, the storekeeper bans her from the store.

Falling Action: After they leave the store, the young girl drives past it often. Whenever she does, she is filled with anger. She has however, learned her lesson; never steal.

Resolution: There is no resolution in this story. It ends with the young girl being angry that she can't go into the store any more.

The Cast

The Imagery

Throughout the story the girl describes the world around her to let the reader understand her thoughts. When they pull up to the store, she describes the front displays, it gives the reader the feeling of an everyday small town place to shop. When she is returning the candy, she describes "a man with a wide face and a swollen belly poking out from under a button up vest...I could smell the sharp alcohol scent of after-shave," (79) to be the storekeeper. This shows the reader a man that is mostly unpleasent. The imagery is used to let the reader understand the girl. The man's discription shows that the girl doesn't like the man. This is important to understand her actions and feelings later in the story.

The Theme.

Don't steal. This is the moral of the story. The young girl learns this from her mother's stories, and from her experience. This is a very important lesson for everyone to know. This moral makes the story very engaging. As a reader, you will always want to know what Mama is going to say or do next to teach her daughter this lesson. From the beginning, Mama tells her daughter stories that will teach not to steal. These stories show the young girl that what she has done is very bad. The first story about her cousin, also shows her that stealing small things can lead to bigger things, and people not liking her. The young girl doesn't like the thought of people hating her, which makes her think about what she has done.

The Compelling Aspect

The most compelling part of this story is the plot. The plot starts with a very exciting exposition. Next, the plot gets more exciting. As they are driving to the store, the reader can't help but be on the edge of their seat. You are always compelled to read more, because you want to know what will happen with the young girl at the store. Later in the story when the girl gets to the store, the reader will be wanting to know more as the girl is faced with returning her candy. It is described how her mood changes during this event which only adds to the plot.