Winter’s Bone Chapters 19-21 Summary & Analysis

Daniel Woodrell

Winter’s Bone

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Winter’s Bone Chapters 19-21 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 19 

Ree teaches her brothers how to hunt squirrels—how to shoot cleanly, strategize the hunt for a bigger quarry, and clean the carcasses. At first, Harold is rather squeamish about touching the guts, but overcomes his hesitation after seeing Sonny and Ree doing it. Ree admonishes him, telling Harold, “You can’t always leave the ugly stuff to Sonny” (107). Later, he and Sonny begin to play with the entrails and paint each other’s faces with the blood while Ree finishes cleaning the remains. As they work in the woods, Ree looks over the acres of timber that had been passed down from the Bromont side of the family. She knows that selling the land would lead to the ruination of the family and that it must be held onto at any cost.

Chapter 20

After preparing and eating dinner, Ree relaxes on the couch and enters into a surreal stream of consciousness. Though her thoughts are abstract and image-based, they center on her feelings of being alone and unintelligible to those around her. These images of confusion and isolation evolve into an erotic fantasy of childhood kisses and disrobing a woman.

Uncle Teardrop’s arrival interrupts Ree’s dreamlike state. He asks Ree if she thinks he forgot about her, to which Ree responds that he has the prerogative to forget them. Teardrop chastises Ree for her insolence and looks out on Sonny and Harold playing in the yard. He notes the differences between the two boys before raising the issue of Jessup’s disappearance. He informs Ree that the police discovered Jessup’s burnt car at Gullett Lake earlier that morning. Ree once again asks for confirmation of Jessup’s death, but Teardrop just hands her money and advises her to sell off the Bromont timber since Jessup has missed his court date.

As he prepares to leave, Teardrop snorts some meth and offers some to Ree, which she refuses. He belatedly becomes aware of her mother’s presence in her chair nearby. He listens to her fragmented humming and reminisces about the past, when the floor had always been shaking from the music and the dancing. Teardrop…

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