Just as the Dolly clan’s ancestors worked as moonshine makers and runners, its current members are cooks and dealers of crystal meth, or crank, as it’s referred to throughout the novel. The street name, crank, represents the wired state of mind it induces in its users; every time a character in the novel uses crank, the tension and sense of imminent danger ramps up immediately. Ree is constantly surrounded not just by manufacturers of the drug but users of it, and her refusal to become a user differentiates her from the vast majority of her friends and relatives. Throughout the novel, crystal meth represents a few different things: a sign of both the physical and moral decay of the community Ree and her family are a part of, a narrative shorthand for or indicator of impending violence, and a symbol of the ways in which the heart of the trades and secrets of the Ozarks remain unchangeable.
The Winter’s Bone quotes below all refer to the symbol of Crystal Meth / Crank. 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: 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.).
The timeline below shows where the symbol Crystal Meth / Crank appears in Winter’s Bone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.