Winter’s Bone Major Character Analysis

Daniel Woodrell

Winter’s Bone

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Winter’s Bone Major Character Analysis

Ree Dolly

Ree is first introduced to the reader as a caretaker. Woodrell describes her as a brunette with green eyes and “a body made for loping after needs” (3). At the novel’s outset, she’s sixteen but taking care of her two younger brothers and her mentally unstable mother. Her father has been a sporadic and temporary presence in her life, and she shoulders many of the burdens that he does not take up.

Although Ree dearly loves her family, she often struggles under the weight of responsibility and dreams of joining the U.S. Army, where “you got to travel with a gun and they made everybody help keep things clean” (15). Ree’s dream of joining the Army simultaneously expresses her desire to leave the Ozarks and her appreciation for order and a guiding moral code. As she is increasingly embroiled in the disturbances and troubles caused by Jessup’s disappearance, she relies on tactics of escapism to cope with the stress—often listening to tapes that conjure up new and exotic environments.

Ree also struggles with feelings of isolation throughout the novel. Although she is surrounded by a large extended family, the groups are fractious and complicated. She has complicated feelings for her best friend Gail, who is her main confidante. Gail’s recent and troubled marriage further has altered an already complex, and occasionally amorous, friendship.

Uncle Teardrop

Uncle Teardrop is Jessup Dolly’s brother and is first introduced as an intimating character. Like his brother, he cooks meth but a lab explosion left him mutilated and scarred. Teardrop earned his moniker for the three blue teardrops tattooed under his eye during his time in prison. Although Ree tells us that no one knew what the teardrops signified, common gossip said they represented three “grisly prison deeds that needed doing but didn’t need to be gabbed about” (24).

Teardrop is described as a daunting character. His arrival in Hawkfall to rescue Ree incites fear amongst the people there, and he later threatens Deputy Baskin with a rifle. His erratic behavior can be explained by his drug use, and he admittedly gets violent and loses his self-control after…

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