Salvage the Bones

by

Jesmyn Ward

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Junior Character Analysis

The youngest of the Batiste siblings at seven years old, Junior is desperate to be included in Esch, Skeetah, and Randall’s games, plots, and schemes despite the large age gap between them. Junior’s mother died giving birth to him, and perhaps because of this has had to shoulder a maturity and a painful wisdom beyond his years. Junior is too young to understand fully the gravity of his family’s poverty, and his constant hunger serves as a painful reminder for Esch of the ways in which she and the rest of her family are failing to provide enough for Junior to thrive.

Junior Quotes in Salvage the Bones

The Salvage the Bones quotes below are all either spoken by Junior or refer to Junior. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bloomsbury edition of Salvage the Bones published in 2011.
The Ninth Day: Hurricane Eclipse Quotes

"It's salty. Taste like pecans. And if worse comes to worst, we can eat like China." Skeetah rubs China from her shoulders to her neck, up along her razor jaw, and holds her face, which goes wrinkly with the skin smashed forward. It looks like he is pulling her to him for a kiss. She squints. I want to kick her. Randall shoulders his box, grabs the ramen box from me, and turns to walk into the house. Junior is tying his cord around an old lawn mower now, pulling at it like he's playing tug-of-war. The sun shines, blazes like fire, funnels down in the gaps between the trees, and lights up Skeetah and China so that they glow, each kneeling before the other, eyes together. Skeetah has already forgotten the conversation, and China never heard it.

"We ain't no dogs," Randall says. “And you ain't either."

Related Characters: Skeetah (speaker), Esch, Randall, Junior
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:
The Eleventh Day: Katrina Quotes

I kick, grasping at the air, but the hurricane slaps me, and I land in the water on my back, the puppies flying out of the bucket, their eyes open for the first time to slits and, I swear, judging me as they hit.

"Esch!" Randall yells, and Junior tightens his legs like a looping shoestring across Randall's waist. Randall grips Junior's shins, those legs thin as rulers. Randall cant jump in. "Swim!" he screams.

I kick my legs and palm water, but I can barely keep my head above it. It is a fanged pink open mouth, and it is swallowing me.

"Fuck!" Skeetah yells. He looks down at China, who is thrusting up and against his sling.

"Esch!" Junior screams, and the water is dragging me sideways, away from the window, out into the yard, toward the gullet of the Pit. I snatch at the puppy closest to me, the brindle, which is limp in my hand, and shove it down my shirt. The white and the black-and-white have disappeared.

"Fuck!" Skeetah screams. He grabs China’s head, whispers something to her as she scrabbles against him. Her teeth show and she jerks backward away from him. She writhes. Her torso is out of the sling he has made. Skeetah grabs China by the head and pulls and her body comes out and she is scrambling. She flies clear of him, twists in the air to splash belly first in the water. She is already swimming, fighting.

Related Characters: Esch (speaker), Skeetah (speaker), Randall (speaker), Junior (speaker)
Page Number: 234-235
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Salvage the Bones LitChart as a printable PDF.
Salvage the Bones PDF

Junior Character Timeline in Salvage the Bones

The timeline below shows where the character Junior appears in Salvage the Bones. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The First Day: Birth in a Bare-Bulb Place
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...she is reminded of her own mother’s final labor: the birth of her younger brother, Junior. Esch and all of her siblings were birthed in their house—a house built in a... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
...China is doing is fighting, like she was born to do.” Skeetah urges Esch, Randall, Junior, and their daddy to leave the shed and give China some space to breathe and... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Esch tries to get Junior to turn away from the gory labor, but it is of no use; Junior wants... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
...that day, Esch was awakened by her father knocking on the door of her and Junior’s room, urging them to get up so they could start preparing for the next hurricane.... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
...and nervous. Before she could talk to Manny, Daddy urged her to rinse the jugs Junior was pulling out from underneath the house. As Esch rinsed the red earth from the... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...woods at the edge of the Pit. The boys had finished their basketball game, and Junior had gone to the woods to hunt for armadillos. As Esch walked towards the forest,... (full context)
Myth Theme Icon
China grows stiff and rigid, glowering past her puppies and Skeetah towards Esch, Randall, and Junior. Skeetah tells everyone to leave the shed so that he can tend to China and... (full context)
The Second Day: Hidden Eggs
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Esch, having gathered up several chicken eggs, heads inside to make breakfast. Junior, though, complains he doesn’t want to eat scrambled eggs again, and he insists on eating... (full context)
The Third Day: Sickness in the Dirt
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
...on the bathroom floor until she feels like she is about to fall asleep again. Junior and Randall call for her, after a while, to which she shouts that she is... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Esch and Skeetah head back out to the shed, walking past Junior in the yard. Junior is piling wood planks on Daddy’s orders, but he stops when... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...wash his hands while Esch sits on the steps of the house. Randall approaches with Junior in tow, and asks what Skeetah is doing to the puppies. Skeetah approaches with the... (full context)
The Fourth Day: Worth Stealing
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...Esch make their way back around to investigate, they realize that Randall, Big Henry, and Junior have followed them through the woods. Skeetah insists that someone needs to bring Junior home;... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
As Skeetah reaches the tree line, Esch, Junior, Randall, and Big Henry all begin running back through the woods. Behind them, Esch hears... (full context)
The Fifth Day: Salvage the Bones
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
...he is underneath his truck, working on the undercarriage. As Esch walks past him and Junior, who is helping him by passing him tools, Daddy asks Esch to find her brothers;... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Back in the shed, Esch and Junior watch Skeetah mix up the medicine. Manny returns, having forgotten his lighter, but no one... (full context)
The Sixth Day: A Steady Hand
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...leaving Esch in charge of China. As he walks out of the shed, he sees Junior standing at the door and warns him not to touch anything. (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Esch and Junior watch as China, just as Skeetah predicted she would, kicks away the puppies. Four remain:... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Junior starts grabbing the puppies and moving them closer to China, and Esch urges him to... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...could drive the tractor best, but Daddy insists he doesn’t see as well as Randall. Junior follows Randall and Daddy over to the tractor while Esch helps Skeetah and Big Henry... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Esch peeks out into the yard; Junior is shadowing Randall, and climbs up onto the tractor to help him. Daddy tries to... (full context)
The Seventh Day: Game Dogs and Game Men
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Myth Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...Daddy sat in the front seat with his hand wrapped in a towel while Esch, Junior, and Randall sat in the back seat, trying not to choke on the smell of... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Now, Esch wakes up to find everyone but Junior still asleep; Big Henry is on the sofa, and Daddy and Randall are in their... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...at the local elementary school. The gym is dark and hot, and Esch sits with Junior, Big Henry, Marquise, and Skeetah as Randall warms up on the court. Skeetah tells the... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Big Henry offers Junior money for a snack, and Junior takes it and runs off without even saying thank... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
When Esch finally comes out of the bathroom, Junior is standing outside waiting for her; Big Henry sent him to come check on her.... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Esch pulls Junior towards the doors as the fight migrates outside. Randall follows the group, demanding to know... (full context)
The Eighth Day: Make Them Know
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Junior wakes Esch up the next morning by shaking her and asking if she’s planning on... (full context)
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Out in the hallway, Junior is sitting on the floor outside of Esch’s door. He lets her know that Randall... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Myth Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Esch, Skeetah, Randall, Junior, and China head through the woods towards the clearing where the fight is to be... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...talking and smoking weed and cigarettes. Esch realizes that she is the only girl present. Junior runs off to play with Marquise’s little brother, while Esch looks at the many dogs—all... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...shrugs Randall off, though, and leads China away so that he can “talk” to her. Junior comes over to Randall and Esch and asks if China is really going to fight;... (full context)
The Ninth Day: Hurricane Eclipse
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Esch calls for Junior; she needs his help pulling nails from their bin. She can’t find him anywhere, but... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Esch and Randall chase Junior to where he’s hidden—beneath the house—and drag him out. Randall asks Junior what’s wrong with... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Later, Esch and Randall recount the story about Junior and the ring to Skeetah—Esch has found the ring and cleaned it, though she threw... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Esch, Randall, and Junior work together to prepare the house for the storm. They board up windows, clean and... (full context)
The Tenth Day: In the Endless Eye
Myth Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...chickens are preparing for the storm, too, and have hidden their eggs well. Randall teaches Junior how to hunt for eggs, giving him the same instructions Esch remembers their mother giving... (full context)
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Junior, however, finds several eggs, and he and Esch bring them back up to the house... (full context)
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...are the only ones who are really close, and Manny’s relationships with Esch, Skeetah, and Junior are “not the same.” Manny says goodbye and turns to leave, and Esch hurries out... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
As they run through the woods, Esch asks where Skeetah and Junior are; Randall replies that they’re somewhere else in the forest. Esch notices that the woods... (full context)
The Eleventh Day: Katrina
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Myth Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...the worst storm she ever weathered in her lifetime. While Mama was still pregnant with Junior, a category three storm called Elaine hit. Esch knows, though, that Katrina is a category... (full context)
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...for the house. Within seconds, there is water over Esch’s toes, and then her ankles. Junior squeals and points out the window—the water has picked up Daddy’s truck and is carrying... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
Randall, Skeetah, and Junior all jump down onto the tree, and then it is Esch’s turn. She is hesitant,... (full context)
Motherhood and Violence Theme Icon
Nature and Control Theme Icon
Poverty and Survival Theme Icon
...her through the broken window. He calls for China, but she is gone. Randall and Junior haul themselves up into the house while Daddy swims lopsidedly, favoring his bad hand. Randall... (full context)
The Twelfth Day: Alive
Myth Theme Icon
Big Henry walks over to Esch and asks if she, Randall, and Junior want to take a car ride through the neighborhood to see the damage. Esch agrees,... (full context)