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Winters Bone By Daniel Woodrell

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1055 words Published: 16th May 2017

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Winters Bone, written by Daniel Woodrell, tells the story of seventeen year old Ree Dolly and her struggles to save her family from the unfortunate circumstance that they have found themselves in. Deep in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, where family ties are very important and all you have to do be beat up is ask the wrong questions, Ree is confronted with a clinically crazy mother, missing father and two young brothers too look after, as well as having only a matter of weeks before they are to be kicked off their own property. After her father Jessup Dolly, a well-known drug dealer and crank chef, fails to show for court, the law gives her only a few days to prove that there is a good reason that he didn’t show before they claim the house that Jessup put up for his bond, where she, her mother and two younger brothers live. The reason, being that he is dead. There is no specific time period identified. However, it is safe to assume that is set in fairly recent times due to the technology mentioned such as Walkmans and television, as well as descriptions of modern types of cars.

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The novel has personal interest to me as Ree is the same age, yet in entirely different circumstances. The conditions that she has found herself placed under teach her to be very strong and have maturity beyond her years. These struggles are similar to those faced by the characters in the other texts that I have reviewed, such as Matty Ross in the film True Grit. Matty is also in a way in search of her father, except in her case it is more metaphorically than literally, as she goes on her quest to avenge her father’s death. She also is a young girl under unfortunate circumstances, who has to grow up very quickly in order to fend for herself.

The novel is written in third person from an omniscient narrative point of view, focusing on Ree. This allows the reader to get a close perspective of Ree and her thoughts, letting them know what she does, yet still not being from her point of view. I personally enjoyed this perspective as at allowed me to feel closer to Ree and appreciate her outlook toward other characters as well as get a clearer idea her surroundings.

This novel is similar in theme to The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins, in that the main character is a strong female of about the same age. Both Katniss and Ree are very protective of their younger siblings, Ree of Sonny and Harold, and Katniss of Prim, as well as having absent fathers and unsupportive mothers, leaving them to look after themselves as well as their siblings. They both are placed under unfortunate circumstances that force them to grow up prematurely and deal with things that people many years their senior would struggle to cope with. This plays on the sympathies of the reader, making them feel that the situation the character is in is unfair, making them want to read on to find vengeance.

I believe that this text would be aimed at an older audience, as the writing style and themes involved would not be suitable for a younger audience. It is very poetic and well balanced, and would most likely be lost on the common fast paced style that is used in novels aimed at younger audiences to hold their attention. Themes like drugs and substance abuse, as well as physical abuse run throughout the text making it unsuitable for a less mature audience.

It is my opinion that the book is beautifully written. It is a short book that avoids periphrasis and cliché, expressing only what is necessary to the imagery for the reader, making it dense and giving it the ability to hold the readers interest. It is almost poetic in the way that it is written, in that it uses a lot of imagery and gets a great deal of information out of a small amount of text, for example “Fading light buttered the ridges until shadows licked them clean and they were lost to nightfall”. There are also parts where what is going on is implied rather than explicit, allowing the reader to think about what is going on and read between the lines. I believe that the way that the author portrays Ree is appealing, a veiled heroine in a brutal environment, who refuses to yield to the ugliness of the society in which she lives. The general atmosphere of the text is quite sombre, however it does offer triumphant moments.

The quality of writing is very different from that of The Hunger Games, which although has a good story line, is lacking in much writing technique and the language is rather colloquial. Winter’s Bone on the other hand is such a rich tale with a very broad dictation that helps to keep the audience captivated from beginning to completion.

One of the scenes that I believe to be important to the reader’s perspective of Ree is the scene where she teaches her brothers how to hunt and skin squirrels. By doing this she is ensuring that they can look after themselves in future if she is not there to care for them. It is admirable how at the age of only sixteen she has practically raised them, and has the initiative to think of their futures and to protect them against any eventuality where she may not be able to look after them. She isn’t stupid and knows the gravity of the situation she is putting herself in by going in search of her father, and still puts her family’s well-being ahead of her own. Later on in the book after Sonny asks her if she will be leaving them for the army, Ree replies “Naw. Id get lost without the weight of you two on my back.” I believe that this quote accurately sums up her attitude toward her brothers, how she has been burdened with looking after them for so long that that she doesn’t know what she would do otherwise.

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This novel turns out to be much more than a simple tale of a girl in search of her father. It unravels to be an admirable tale of a young heroine who refuses to let the brutalities of the world in which she lives get to her even when put under the most unpleasant circumstances. It carries strong messages of family ties and the worth of having the capability to refuse to take no for an answer. It is possibly the best written book that I have read of late, and I would not hesitate to endorse it if asked for recommendation.

By Emily Moss


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