“Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. Why does Esch keep comparing herself to mythological figures? It sounds as if it's hacking its way out of him. This is particularly evident as Esch searches for eggs in her yard, as she associates the egg hunt with memories of her mother teaching her how to find the best eggs. What constitutes motherly “power” in Esch’s eyes is complicated by her fascination with—and her idolatry of—Medea, one of the most notoriously violent figures in Greek myth; a woman who betrayed her family in order to marry her husband Jason, only for Jason to betray her by falling in love with another woman. I want to kick her. “Any dog give birth like that is less strong after. And Skeetah, one year Esch's senior, has eyes only for his pit bull, China, who he cares for as lovingly as a father in the same breath as he champions her ability to hold on to another dog's neck until it is dead.China gives birth to puppies early in the story, and later kills one of them. Discussion of themes and motifs in Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Hackett, Gina. Looks at me head-on, for the second time ever. I pull hard, and my hands slide along his face. “Just growing up, maybe.". "I don't know." The only one I can remember wasn't a hurricane, though, it was a tropical storm-- Allison, in the summer of 2001. "But you know China ain’t as boss as she used to be.". GradeSaver, 19 July 2016 Web. This reversal of the stereotypical male-female dynamic defines Esch's emergence as not only the more vicious fighter, but also the stronger, more mature party in her affair with Manny. Esch, too, looks forward to China’s triumphant return, and the moment in which China will look at her and recognize that she and Esch are the same; they are both mothers, and are bound together by the violent demands of their sacred but impossible roles. By invoking the violence of Medea, who famously killed her own children to get revenge on her cheating lover, Esch suggests a framework for understanding her own power as a new mother. China will bark and call me sister. A cloud passes over the sun, and it is dark under the trees. "You’re saying I'm fat?" The violent side of motherhood is put further on display when Skeetah decides to fight China against another dog, Kilo, just days after she has given birth. Running like an undercurrent through the novel is Esch’s obsession with the ancient Greek myth of Medea, who famously killed her two children in order to wound her husband, Jason. -Graham S. Now, the sun has emerged and burned away the lingering storm clouds. Various characters in the novel seem to possess the power to see beyond the physical world. He reaches out his big soft hand, soft as the bottom of his feet probably, and helps me stand. Motherhood and Violence. Salvage the Bones Themes Nature’s Destructive and Life-giving Power This theme is also intertwined with the theme of motherhood, as both China and Hurricane Katrina--the symbols that illustrate this dual-sided quality of nature--are called mothers. China licks Skeetah's cheek. Her torso is out of the sling he has made. As for the male parental figure, Esch's father is a drunk, obsessed with hurricanes; he is a peripatetic and vinegar-scented presence in his children's lives. Skeetah dusts China's breasts off, waves us on. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Skeetah, having lost China, is utterly inconsolable. I haven’t said it to myself yet, out loud. From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. China is bloody-mouthed and bright-eyed as Medea. Junior also exhibits prophetic traits; for example, his fear of bathing foreshadows the destructive power of water later embodied by Hurricane Katrina. Copyright © 1999 - 2020 GradeSaver LLC. He glances at me, too, but I feel it even after he looks away. However, as the narrative progresses and Esch watches China eat, maim, and neglect her own young, Esch is forced to confront the fact that her own memories of her sweet, kind, loving mother are perhaps outliers—perhaps motherhood is a darker transaction. Skeetah kneels in the dirt, feeling for the mutilated puppy; he knocks into metal drums and toolboxes and old chainsaws with his head and his shoulders. Skeetah rubs down her sides, feels her ribs. We all share clothes, so it's mostly men's T-shirts for me, loose jeans and cotton shorts. Sometimes-belabored themes aside, Salvage the Bones is suffused with truly beautiful writing. She flies clear of him, twists in the air to splash belly first in the water. Each chapter is a day, and through them pass the names of the storms that didn't destroy the Gulf. And, of course, don't forget check out KGB Bar for the latest goings-on at both KGB Bar and The Red Room, New York City's best-kept secret! Themes of death and motherhood in Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward is an intimate look at life, death, pregnancy, and the sometimes twisted role played by motherhood in these matters. Michael Vick's $100 million contract came to mind reading about Skeetah's efforts to get China better dog food, the care he takes of her as she gives birth, his concern over the health of her puppies, so great that he would rob a neighboring family that he knows has the medicine he needs--tenderness, entirely at odds with the narrative of dogfighting that exists in our consciousness today.