Child Abuse and it's Role in Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

analytical Essay
1530 words
1530 words

While reading the semi-autobiographical, Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison, I was stunned by the explicit nature of the novel. We were introduced to a young narrator and protagonist named, Ruth Anne “Bone” Boatwright. Bone's family, like that of the author, experienced a impoverished life, all the while she tried to find her place in a society that had literally labeled her “illegitimate.” Merriam-Webster defines illegitimate as being: (1) not recognized as lawful offspring; specifically: born of parents not married to each other (2) not rightly deduced or inferred- illogical (3) departing for the regular- erratic (4) not sanctioned by law- illegal (5) not authorized by good usage. As a young girl, how would it feel being known as illogical, erratic, illegal, not for good usage, and, in Bone's case, being constantly reminded of not knowing the identity of your birth father? According to, a non-profit online resource for mental health, the article “Child Abuse & Neglect” addressed how constantly being told you are stupid or no good, as a child, is very difficult to overcome. You may accept these negative thoughts and believe them to be reality. In this research paper, I am looking to unveil the truth of child abuse by focusing on the history, myths, and victim rehabilitation of child abuse. From a very young age, Bone was sexually abused by her step-father, Glen Waddell. Like Bone, Dorothy Allison also suffered abuse from her step-father, starting at the young age of five years-old. During the time of the novel, and until recent years, it was unthinkable to speak of any sort of abuse outside the household. Throughout history, children have been victims of abuse by their parents or other adults, and fo... ... middle of paper ... ...ting and Reporting Child Abuse. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014. deMause, Lloyd . "The History of Child Abuse." The History of Child Abuse. N.p., 25 Sept. 1997. Web. 5 Apr. 2014. . "illegitimate." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. . "Mary Ellen Wilson." Mary Ellen Wilson. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. . "The Story of Mary Ellen." The Story of Mary Ellen. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. . Watkins, S.A. (1990). The Mary Ellen myth: Correcting child welfare history. Social Work, 35(6), pp. 500-503.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the explicit nature of the semi-autobiographical, bastard out of carolina, by dorothy allison. bone's family experienced an impoverished life while trying to find her place in a society that had literally labeled her "illegitimate."
  • Explains that bone was sexually abused by her step-father, glen waddell, and dorothy allison, who also suffered abuse. the child-protection movement started with the news of an eight-year-old orphan named mary ellen wilson.
  • States that they have no recollection of a time when they did not live with the connollys. mamma has been in the habit of whipping and beating them almost every day.
  • Analyzes how bone's desperate need to have a father figure is heartbreaking, since most child abusers are family members or others close to the family.
  • Opines that victims of abuse can suffer post-traumatic effects, such as feeling "worthless" or "damaged." the best way to identify the possibility of child abuse is through being aware of possible warning signs.
  • Analyzes how dorothy allison's semi-autobiographical, bastard out of carolina, opens readers' eyes to a topic not commonly written about.
  • Narrates how mary ellen's last hope for freedom lay in the hands of the american society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
  • Explains that mary ellen's story inspired the founding of the society for the prevention of cruelty to children.
  • Explains that options are limited for abuse victims: to find help, they must face fear of more violence, deportation.
  • Explains that demause, lloyd, "the history of child abuse." n.p., 25 sept. 1997.
  • Explains the story of mary ellen. american humane, n.p., n.d.; watkins, s.a.
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