Winter’s Bone

Uncle Teardrop Character Analysis

Ree’s uncle and Jessup’s brother, nicknamed Teardrop for the teardrop prison tattoos on his face. A fearsome figure and crystal meth cook, Teardrop seems at first to be the novel’s antagonist. His violent demeanor and physical disfigurement (the result of a meth lab explosion) intimidate Ree, but as the hunt for her father intensifies and she finds herself delving deeper and deeper into the increasingly dangerous underworld of the Ozarks, Teardrop becomes her ally and protector.

Uncle Teardrop Quotes in Winter’s Bone

The Winter’s Bone quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Teardrop or refer to Uncle Teardrop. 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:
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of Winter’s Bone published in 2007.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Don’t you, nor nobody else, neither, ever go down around Hawkfall askin’ them people shit about stuff they ain’t offerin’ to talk about. That’s a real good way to end up et by hogs, or wishin’ you was… Our relations get watered kinda thin between this valley here and Hawkfall.”

Related Characters: Uncle Teardrop (speaker), Ree Dolly
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

To have but a few male names in use was a tactic held over from the olden knacker ways…Let any sheriff or similar nabob try to keep official accounts on the Dolly men when so many were named Milton, Haslam, Arthur or Jessup… Jessups, Arthurs, Haslams and Miltons were born to walk only the beaten Dolly path, live and die in keeping with those bloodline customs fiercest held.

Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 26 Quotes

“You own me now. Understand? You purty much own me now, girl. You do wrong, it’s on me. You do big wrong’n it’s me that’ll pay big.”

Related Characters: Uncle Teardrop (speaker), Ree Dolly
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 32 Quotes

This was how sudden things happened that haunted forever.

Related Characters: Ree Dolly (speaker), Uncle Teardrop
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
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Uncle Teardrop Character Timeline in Winter’s Bone

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Teardrop appears in Winter’s Bone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon
When Ree arrives at Teardrop’s house, his wife Victoria opens the door. Ree is always surprised by Victoria’s beauty, and... (full context)
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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
Ree protests, reminding Teardrop that much of the Ozark community is related, and asking if he can reach out... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
On the walk back from Teardrop’s house, Ree sits on a stump to think. She imagines her ancestors, moonshiners and their... (full context)
Chapter 20
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
...couch. She falls asleep and has strange, unsettling dreams, though, and when she awakens, Uncle Teardrop is standing over her. He tells her that the authorities found Jessup’s car; it was... (full context)
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Teardrop gives Ree money, and advises her to sell off the timber acres “while [she] can.”... (full context)
Chapter 25
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
...hear the men by the door talking; a truck is pulling up, and it is Teardrop’s. One of the men goes to get a gun—“I ain’t standin’ here naked when [he]... (full context)
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
Teardrop enters the barn and asks who was responsible for beating Ree. Merab insists that no... (full context)
Chapter 26
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
On the drive home, Teardrop gives Ree a shotgun to hold “for if they come.” He pulls a baby-bottle of... (full context)
Chapter 29
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Teardrop tells Ree that she took her beating as well as a man, but that he’s... (full context)
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Ree asks Teardrop if their family will be forever shunned from now on. He tells her that “The... (full context)
Chapter 30
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon
...[hospital and] leave her on the steps.” As for Harold, she plans to “beg Victoria’n Teardrop to take [him] in.” (full context)
Chapter 32
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
In the middle of the night, Teardrop comes for Ree and wraps her in her grandmother’s coat. “Fuck this waitin’ shit,” he... (full context)
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Teardrop drives Ree around back roads, lamenting that he is too high to sleep, and that... (full context)
Chapter 35
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
...porch” the night before. Baskin tells Ree that, the other night, he didn’t shoot at Teardrop only because Ree was with him in the car. Ree tells Baskin that it looked... (full context)
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Violence and Decay Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
A while later Teardrop arrives at the house, and Ree thinks that he looks tired and unshaven. He watches... (full context)
Silence and Secrets Theme Icon
Family, Destiny, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Isolation and Independence Theme Icon
Women and Matriarchy Theme Icon
Mike leaves, and Teardrop tells Ree that he now knows who killed Jessup. Ree embraces Teardrop, and then he... (full context)