Bastard Out of Carolina

By Dorothy Allison

Bastard Out of Carolina

Plot Line:

Exposition- The main character's mom finds out about her cousin stealing and tells her daughter that stealing is not okay.

Rising Action- The main character steals some candy from a store and her mom catches her. She then learns about the bad lives of people who steal and the dangers of stealing in general from her mom. At this point, she realizes that she has made a big mistake.

Climax- The main character must go back to the store and confess that she stole the candy. She gives back what she had left and pays for what she had already eaten.

Falling Action- The main character is not only embarrassed that she had to go back and return the candy, but she also realizes how bad the act of stealing really is. Although it took a great amount of tears and actions she would have preferred to live without, the main character learned her lesson.

Resolution- The main character has fixed her wrongdoing and has learned that stealing is very wrong and that she should never do it again.


The obvious theme of this story is not to steal, but also to not have a "the damage is already done" attitude when you do something wrong. Instead, you should do you best to fix your mistakes even if it is very hard to confess. In situations like this, the hard way is often the right way.

Character Information: There were two main characters in this story: the mother and the daughter.

Mama- Through both direct and indirect characterization, I learned that the mother has multiple sides to her. On one hand, she is a strict mother who makes her child go to the store and confess that she has stolen and not only make her give back the candy she has left, but also pay for what she and her sister had already eaten. On the other hand, you see the mom as very gentle and optimistic toward her daughter stroking her hair when she cries and ensuring her everything will be okay. Both sides of her show how she is simply trying to be a good mother and teach her daughter right from wrong.

Daughter- The daughter overall seems like a great person who just made a bad decision influenced by some negative figures around her. The fact that she stole at all proves she does have a daring and rebellious side, but the guilt shown by her crying and apologies proves she is not truly a bad person.

Conflict: The major conflict in this story was that the daughter stole and it was both internal and external.

Internal- This is an internal conflict because the main character feels very guilty for her actions. She is clearly upset with herself that she made such a bad decision and it seems she is also upset because she feels she has disappointed her mother.

External- This is also an external conflict because the mother and the store manager were both disappointed or angry at her for her mistakes.

Literary Devices:

Simile- One of the best similes in this short story said, "The lines in her face looked as deep as the rivers that flowed south toward Charleston." This is a simile, shown by the use of as, that I felt was very effective. This comparison let the reader know how worried the mother was as she questioned whether or not her daughter did in fact steal the candy she had.

Most Compelling Aspect: I think this is an amazing story because of its strong message intertwined in a realistic and a bit humorous story. This is a story that you will not only enjoy reading, but will also benefit from.