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

1533 Words 7 Pages
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 …show more content…
It was not until the early 1870s that child abuse was first brought into light. The Child-Protection Movement started with the news of one eight year-old orphan named Mary Ellen Wilson. After the passing of her biological mother and father, Mary Ellen was left in the care of her biological father's widow, Mary McCormack Connolly. Mrs. McCormack Connolly badly mistreated Mary Ellen, and neighbors in the building were well aware of the child's predicament (Mary Ellen Wilson, 2013). It was not until Etta Angell Wheeler, a caring Methodist mission worker, visited the residence and noticed Mary Ellen's condition. Ms. Wheeler describes her first meeting with Mary Ellen, as such:
“It was December and the weather bitterly cold. She was a tiny mite, the size of five years, though, as afterward appeared, she was then nine. From a pan set upon a low stool she stood washing dishes, struggling with a frying pan about as heavy as herself. Across the table lay a brutal whip of twisted leather strands and the child's meagre arms and legs bore many marks of its use. But the saddest part of her story was written on her face in its look of suppression and misery, the face of a child unloved, of a child that had seen only the fearsome side of life. These things I saw while seeming not to see, and I left without speaking to, or of, the child. I never
Open Document