Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones

  • 31-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 12 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a high school English teacher with over 10 years of experience
Access Full Summary

Salvage the Bones Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 5—The Fifth Day: Salvage the Bones

Esch barges in on Skeet in the bathroom because she has to urinate badly. She sees Skeet observing himself in the mirror, tracing the cuts on his torso. He got them while climbing recklessly out of the barn window to flee. He tells Esch that he put hydrogen peroxide on his wounds “from China’s bottle” because that is what he uses to clean her wounds after a fight. While helping Skeet wrap a bandage around himself, Esch has a flashback to the times that their father and mother would go swimming in the Bay of Angels. Their mother had caught a shark once, and had “coaxed it to death” (85); they ate it that evening for dinner.

Skeet comments that Esch “ran slow yesterday” (86). Esch vaguely denies it as she can’t tell him the reason. She admits that she hasn’t “said it to saw the lines” (86). Esch, in private, inspects her body closely in the mirror to see if she is showing.

Later, Manny is with Skeet and he suggests that he bathe China. China won’t be fighting at the next fight, but Skeet does want to show her off so the other guys will remember her; he will bathe her just before the fight. Manny is talking up his cousin Rico and the dog that he is preparing to fight. Manny believes that China won’t be as strong anymore since she’s become a mother. He says that it “‘ Price of being female.’” (96).

However, Skeet rejects Manny’s argument, asking: “‘You serious? That’s when they come into they strength. They got something to protect….’That’s power…To give life…is to know what’s worth fighting for. And what’s love’’” (96). Later, recalling what she’s heard in the hallways at school, Esch is pondering ways to cause a miscarriage, trying to “knead stomach, knead the melon to pull, but it just keeps springing back: ripe. Intent on bearing seed”…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 762 words. Click below to download the full study guide for Salvage the Bones.