Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ree decides to start her hunt for her father’s whereabouts with her uncle Teardrop, Jessup’s older brother, “though [he] scare[s] her.” Ree walks down the railroad tracks the three miles to Teardrop’s house, wearing an overcoat, a skirt, and combat boots.
Ree shields herself with her most beloved items of clothing for the walk over to Teardrop’s, demonstrating further how badly frightened of him she is, and how she feels she needs protection.
Themes
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
When Ree arrives at Teardrop’s house, his wife Victoria opens the door. Ree is always surprised by Victoria’s beauty, and by the beauty of all of Teardrop’s ex-wives; he himself is a “nightmare” to look at, according to Ree, and a frightening figure as well. A crank chef and the victim of a blown meth lab, Teardrop is intimidating and disfigured, with three blue teardrop tattoos on his face that are the mark of “grisly deeds” done during his time in prison. Ree tells Victoria that she is looking for her father. Victoria tells Ree that Jessup isn’t at the house, but invites her inside and offers her coffee.
Ree finds a sort of mother figure in Victoria, and is unable to reconcile her relative sweetness with Teardrop’s ferocity. Teardrop’s involvement in the crank business makes him all the more repulsive to Ree, as she despises the fact that her own father cooks crank and has seen what his involvement in the trade has done to their family.
Themes
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon
On the kitchen table, there is a pistol, a bag of marijuana, and a bag of crank. Ree explains her dire situation to Victoria, and tells her that they need to “run [Jessup] to ground and get him to show.” As she says this, Teardrop comes out of his bedroom. “You ought not do that,” he says, and advises Ree to stop running after her father. “The choice” to show up for court “is up to the one that’s goin’ to jail to make,” he says. Teardrop tells Ree that he hasn’t seen Jessup; Ree asks if he might be “runnin’ with Little Arthur” and a bunch of men from Hawkfall. Teardrop threatens to smack Ree, but relents. He tells her never to go looking for answers in Hawkfall, and reminds her that she should know better.
The objects just in Teardrop’s kitchen establish his home as a dangerous place. Teardrop’s appearance and his immediate insistence that Ree stay out of her father’s business further establish him as a morally dubious character, and his allegiance to the Ozark code of silence paints him as an obstacle and, in some ways, direct antagonist to Ree.
Themes
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Ree protests, reminding Teardrop that much of the Ozark community is related, and asking if he can reach out to relatives in Hawkfall. Teardrop refuses, again physically threatening Ree. She presses on, though, and finally he grabs her by the hair and shakes her. He releases her, takes the bag of crank from the kitchen table, and retreats to his room. Victoria follows. After a few minutes, she emerges, hands Ree fifty dollars, and urges her to heed Teardrop and stay close to home.
Teardrop’s use of violence against Ree is shocking—it speaks to the imbalance of power and dearth of respect not just between men and women but between elder and younger members of the Dolly clan. Teardrop makes an attempt to silence Ree with money, though it’s implied through the exchange of it that he is fearful of her initiative and drive to discover the truth.
Themes
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon
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