Winter’s Bone


Daniel Woodrell

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Winter’s Bone: Chapter 29 Summary & Analysis

Victoria visits Ree, who is trying, through a sleepy haze, to figure out how she will move all of her family’s furniture out of the home and into a cave, where she, her mother, and her brothers can make a new home—just as their ancestors once did. Victoria leaves, and then Harold and Sonny come to comfort Ree. They ask her questions about her assailants, but Ree tells them to let her sleep. In the midst of terrible dreams, Gail offers Ree some more pills. When Ree gets up to go to the bathroom, she sees Uncle Teardrop sitting on the couch, a rifle propped up against the arm.
Ree retreats into her mind, so overwhelmed by pain, shame, and devastation over her father’s betrayal. The realization that, through all of this, Teardrop has been watching over her, comes as a surprise—but also as an affirmation of the values of familial duty and care.
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Teardrop tells Ree that she took her beating as well as a man, but that he’s not “big on trust” and wants to keep an eye on her. Ree tells Teardrop that she feels “shamed” that Jessup turned snitch. Teardrop tells Ree that Jessup loved her and her brothers, and “that’s where he went weak.”
Even though Jessup committed what is seen as a cardinal sin within their community, Teardrop is able to comfort Ree with the fact that he did it, at least in part, to help protect his own wife and children.
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Ree asks Teardrop if their family will be forever shunned from now on. He tells her that “The Dollys around here can’t be seen to coddle a snitch’s family—that’s always been our way.” But, he says, “that shunning can change, some. Over time.” Teardrop tells Ree that people have noticed how strong she is. Ree tells Teardrop that he has always scared her. “That’s ‘cause you’re smart,” he says. Ree goes back to bed and falls into a deep sleep.
The fate of being shunned is a terrifying prospect in Ree’s view. In hard times, she is dependent on care and supplies from her relatives, and doesn’t know how she’ll survive without it. Luckily, Teardrop reassures Ree that she has made her mark on the community; her father’s sins, perhaps, will not be considered her burden to bear.
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