Bastard Out of Carolina

By Dorthy Alison


This short story, Bastard Out of Carolina, takes place somewhere in the Carolinas and around the mid 1900s. Most of the story takes place at the home of the main character and Woolworth's Candy Shop.


Exposition: The story begins with the girl stealing tootsie rolls from a candy shop.

Rising Action: The girl's mother finds out that the tootsie rolls were stolen from the candy shop and talks to her daughter about what outcomes come from stealing.

Climax: The girl is forced to go return the remaining tootsie rolls to the store manager of the candy shop.

Falling Action: The girl talks to the store manager, but finds her self more resentful than ashamed.

Resolution: The store owner bans the girl from his shop for awhile.


There are a few different tones of this story. In the beginning of the story, the tone is shameful, as the girl's mother finds out that she stole. In the middle and end of the story, it is quite tense and angry because this is around when the girl talks to the store manager and is banned from the store.

Main Conflicts

In this story, there are a few different conflicts. One external conflict was between the girl and Mama. The girl did not want to return the tootsie rolls that she had stolen, but the mom forced her to anyway. Another external conflict is between the girl and the store manager. The store manager feels like the girl did not learn her lesson, even after shamefully returning the tootsie rolls, and the girl becomes enraged when he says "Help her to teach you the seriousness of what you've done." (Bastard out of Carolina, 97)

There are only two main internal conflict in the story. This was between the girl knowing that she should feel ashamed for what she had done, but instead feeling nothing but rage. "I knew I was supposed to feel ashamed, but I didn't anymore. I felt outraged."(Bastard out of Carolina, 97). Another internal conflict is when Mama says that her daughter is her pride, but she is worried that she will become like her cousin, Tommy Lee, whom is a thief himself. "You're my pride. Do you know? You and your sister are all I really have, all I ever will have. You think I could let you grow up to be like that?" (Bastard out of Carolina, 94)

Main Idea

The main ideas of this story seems to be centered around thievery and unconditional love. Mama makes it quite clear that she does not want her precious daughter to become a thief, and that thought is carried through most of the story. Unconditional love is another big message of the story. Even though her daughter did steal, Mama showed that she loved her daughter anyway, and cared enough about her to make the girl apologize to the store manager.