Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ree, Sonny, and Harold wait for the school bus while coyotes howl in the hills. Harold wonders aloud if the three of them should set food out for the coyotes. Sonny says the three of them should shoot the coyotes, and Harold says that even though he’s fearful of them he still wouldn’t want to shoot them. Ree explains to Harold that setting food out for the coyotes, then, would only draw them into shooting range. The bus arrives, and Ree and her brothers board it.
Harold feels badly for the hungry and howling coyotes and wants to feed them, but Ree insists that leaving food out would just lure them into the open, where they could be shot by anyone. The coyotes are a metaphor here for Sonny and Harold themselves; Ree is doing her best to ensure that her brothers will never be so defenseless or so easily lured into dangerous situations.
Themes
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Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Once the bus pulls up to the boys’ school, Ree warns Sonny and Harold not to get into any fights unless they do so in order to defend one another from troublemakers or bullies. Ree disembarks the bus and hitchhikes her way to Hawkfall, a “creepy [and] sacred” valley where some members of her extended family live.
Ree wants her brothers to be strong, but not stupid. She urges them not to fight unless they absolutely have to, wanting to discourage any violent nature they might have (and also possibly to avoid creating any new family grudges or feuds).
Themes
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
When Ree arrives, a young woman emerges from one of the Hawkfall houses and asks who she is. Ree introduces herself as a Dolly from Rathlin Valley; the woman says it “might as well be Timbuktu.” Ree explains that she is looking for Little Arthur, a friend of her father’s. The woman somewhat reluctantly offers to bring Ree to Little Arthur’s house. On the way to Little Arthur’s, the woman introduces herself to Ree as Megan; Megan concedes that she does know Ree and recognizes her from some extended family reunions. Megan says that she knows who Ree’s father is, but has never spoken with him. Ree tells Megan that Jessup is a crank chef; Megan replies that “they all [are] now.”
Though Megan pretends at first to not know who Ree is, she eventually reveals that she recognizes Ree as her kin. This defensive, manipulative way of interacting is shown throughout the rest of the novel to be characteristic of many of the residents of Hawkfall, a place Teardrop has warned Ree not to go. However dangerous the Dolly clan may be, the residents of Hawkfall are equally so—and possess the added threat of being only loosely related to the Dollys, and therefore untethered to the bonds and protections of family.
Themes
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Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon
As they approach Little Arthur’s house, Megan warns Ree: “if he’s been runnin’ on crank for a day or two, you should just leave.” Little Arthur opens the door, and asks Ree if he’s been in her dreams. Ree tells Little Arthur that she is looking for her father. Arthur insists that he hasn’t seen Jessup since the spring, when he’d come up to Rathlin Valley for a weekend. While staying there, Little Arthur had given Ree psychedelic mushrooms, and the two had slept together. In the wake of their drug-fueled tryst, Ree had considered turning Little Arthur into her father, but ultimately decided against it. Ree begs Little Arthur for her father’s whereabouts, but he insists that he hasn’t seen him. Little Arthur offers Ree and Megan crank and marijuana, and when they refuse, he sends them out of the house.
Ree is embarrassed by her history with Little Arthur—who is an older and slightly dangerous man—but nonetheless hopes to leverage it in her favor and get Little Arthur to provide her with information as to her father’s whereabouts. Just as she considered leveraging her relationship with her father to get Little Arthur in trouble that past spring, she now must consider how valuable this manipulation of Little Arthur himself is. Little Arthur, though, proves even more volatile and unreliable than Ree thought, and is offended when Ree and Megan refuse the drugs he offers them.
Themes
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Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon
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Megan tells Ree that if she wants information, she should go up the hill and request an audience with Thump Milton, though she advises Ree that he probably won’t be willing to talk with her. Ree refuses, telling Megan that Thump Milton scares her. “Scared’s not a bad way to be about him,” Megan tells Ree, but insists that Thump is the only person who might have an answer as to her father’s whereabouts. She warns Ree to be “careful [not to] say I sent you,” and sends her up the mountain, reassuring her that “it’s been this way with our people forever.”
Megan sends Ree on a mission to visit Thump Milton, though Megan herself seems not just wary but frightened of Thump, and reluctant to admit to any involvement in Ree’s dealings with him. Megan too, though, is conscious of the old ways, and the code of respect between the many mountain clans.
Themes
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon