Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones

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Salvage the Bones Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 4— The Fourth Day: Worth Stealing

The chapter opens with Esch walking to her Mother Lizbeth’s and Papa Joseph’s house. When her grandparents were alive, they lived on the same land as them. “The house is a drying animal skeleton”, because “now pick at the house like mostly eaten leftovers” (58). Esch finds Skeetah pulling up linoleum from the house. He wants to cover the floor in the shed for the puppies because he believes they are contracting parvovirus from the dirt floor. Skeet also asks her for her help. The only instructions he gives are that she has to run, and that they’re going to the woods.

Their father arrives and Esch sneaks the linoleum out of the window so he won’t see. Their father asks them for help and even though Skeet tries to evade him, his father won’t let him go. He wants a few boards from the ceiling and makes Skeet use Esch like a stepstool to get them. Even though Skeet tries to refuse because he knows it will hurt Esch, his father won’t let up. Skeet tries to reassure Esch that he will be as quick as he can, and despite her feigned strength, she lets out a few sounds of pain. Skeetah throws the boards down, almost hitting his father on purpose, and Esch “” (64).

Skeet’s errand involves visiting the “white people’s” house. He changes into darker clothing and asks Esch to do the same so she can be camouflaged. Skeet is going to try and steal cow wormer because he can’t lose anymore dogs and has asked Esch to be a lookout for him.

Running up the drive of the house, Esch is reminded of the long bus rides that would bring them to “white Bois” where the poverty was still noticeable. “I wonder if they have their own Skeetahs and Esches crawling around the edges of their fields, like ants under the floorboards marching in line towards sugar left open in the cabinet” (71). As they approach the house they see someone near the trees coming from the…

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