Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones

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Salvage the Bones Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 6— The Sixth Day: A Steady Hand

Skeetah is worried that something is wrong with China. She’s “too easy”; she doesn’t fight off the puppies after they’ve had enough and he is concerned that he gave her too much de-wormer. Esch notes that Skeetah’s treatment of and behavior around China is very much like their mother’s around her children. Esch convinces Skeetah to bathe and to take care of his wounds and to lift his spirits, and she is left to watch over China.

China moves away from the puppies and then sleeps. Junior carefully brings them closer to her. With the last puppy he takes his time and China stirs in her sleep. Esch squeezes his arm hard because he won’t listen to her commands to put the puppy down. Junior asks to go to the park and Esch agrees to take him. Skeetah comes along, bringing China, to “ her walk it out” (117) but she is slow and reluctant.

When they reach the park there are a couple of girls there. One is Manny’s girlfriend Shaliyah, and Manny is playing basketball with another. Esch notices that Shaliyah holds herself with the sort of confidence that comes from being with only one boy. Esch compares the way Manny plays basketball to the way China would release her frustration at having ear mites: violent and alone.

They return home and it is unbearably hot. Their father is still hammering away; dismantling the chicken coop. Claude asks Randall to drive the tractor to knock down an entire wall. Because the approaching storm has been upgraded to hurricane status, they don’t have enough wood to board up the windows. Randall does as he’s asked and, despite their dad’s warning yells, the tractor shears his fingers “off clean as fallen tree trunks” (130).

Meanwhile, Skeetah tries to get China to eat by putting bacon dripping on her food. She still refuses. Unexpectedly, China grabs a puppy in her mouth and destroys it, chewing and “whipping him through the air like a tire eaten too short for Skeetah to grab” (129).

Chapter 6 Analysis:

There are several instances…

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