Winter’s Bone Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Daniel Woodrell

Winter’s Bone

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Winter’s Bone Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 1

Winter’s Bone opens with Ree Dolly staring out at the deer carcasses hanging from trees in her neighbors’ yard—neighbors who are also her relatives. Ree, a hardened and mature sixteen year old, watches a winter storm begin to blow in and considers her family’s bare cupboards and lean woodpile. While she reviews her chores for the day, she remembers that her absent father, Jessup, has left without providing for his family. Jessup, an unreliable parent, had left Ree in charge of her two brothers and mentally ill mother earlier that fall; his last words were to advise Ree against looking for him until he had returned home. Harold, her younger brother, interrupts Ree’s ruminations about her father’s departure by enquiring if they should ask their relatives to share the venison hanging in the trees. Ree reprimands Harold, telling him, “Never ask for what ought to be offered” (5). They return to the house to eat grits, their remaining food.

Chapter 2

Ree feeds her younger brothers, Harold and Sonny, and prepares them for school. Her mother, a descendent of the wealthy Bromont family, sits in her chair, medicated and unaware. As Ree washes the dishes and dresses her brothers for schools, she reflects on their dilapidated house, which had once housed her Bromont grandparents. Her contemplations shift to worrying about her brothers. Sonny, at ten, resembles Blond Milton, Ree’s uncle, and has a “punishing spirit” (8). Harold, at eight, lacks the same hostility and strength, but he follows in Sonny’s footsteps. Although Ree’s “grand hope was that these boys would not be dead to wonder by age twelve, dead to life, empty of kindness, boiling with mean” (8), she is aware that the Dolly clan abides by “blood-soaked commandments” (8) outside of “square law” (8). Destitution and hunger feeds anger and depravity, and Ree wants more for her brothers than hunger and need.

Chapter 3

As Ree chops wood for the woodpile, she listens to The Sounds of Tranquil Shores to distance herself from her surroundings. She admits that she favors music that mimics different scenery. As she rests, she sees a…

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