In Vincent King’s essay “Hopeful Grief: The Prospect of a Postmodernist Feminism in Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina” the postmodernist aspect of Dorothy Allison’s book is considered. In order to lead readers away from defining the content of Bastard Out of Carolina as an attempt at equivocation, King examines the story’s protagonist, Bone, and her ability to survive her horrific childhood. By redefining the stereotypes that she will answer to, Bone becomes empowered despite the novel’s conclusion, where Bone is horribly scarred at the tender age of thirteen. According to Vincent King, Allison’s narrative can be considered feminist because it “exposes and seeks to counter the physical, emotional, and economic domination that women suffer within a patriarchal system”. Her realization that the damaging name-calling and the societal stereotypes not only stigmatize, but they are also transactional; which further damages Bone and those around her.
Vincent King also deals with the critics who accuse Allison of perpetuating a perverted infatuation with incest as a means to further book sales. As King notes, the first eight chapters are about Daddy Glenn’s incestuous relationship with his stepdaughter, Bone; which begin when Bone is around the age of five. It is the subsequent chapters however, that explore Bone’s search for a new identity, free of damaging hegemonic hierarchies that threaten to lock her into the “white-trash” stereotype forever. Exploring a young woman’s bildungsroman, King argues that Allison has managed to display the aspect of a postmodernist feminist by combining the strengths of both ideologies.
King, Vincent. "Hopeful Grief: The Prospect of a Postmodernist Feminism in Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina." Southern Literary Journal. 33.1 (2000): 122-40. .