Aunt Raylene's Bad Choices in Bastard Out of Carolina

Our lives are made by the choices we make. Like James Baldwin once said, “People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the lives they lead.” People’s actions are their own and each of their actions has a consequence whether it’s good or bad. Those consequences can later shape the person’s life like Bone’s Aunt Raylene in Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison.

Aunt Raylene based her life on a choice she made when she was young. This decision shaped Raylene to become the woman she is today.

Aunt Raylene shaped her life on a choice she made when she was young. Aunt Raylene came over to visit Bone and Reese while their mama was taking care of their Aunt Alma. Raylene was talking to Bone and was telling her “I made my life,…- out of pride and stubbornness and too much anger”.

Aunt Raylene has been reckless, and independent since she was young; she cut her hair off short and wore jeans and ran way to work at the carnival.

Raylene has always been stubborn and she never cared about what other be thought of her. She does what she does without any consideration of what other people think. She only does what she thinks, not what other people think and she doesn’t like it when others tell her what to do. Raylene ran away to the carnival when she was young, but she came back to living to her hometown to live on the edge of town in the country near a river all by herself but at least she’s happy with what she made her life out to be.

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She made a choice to live on her own and she’s made her life that way, of her being alone.

In living alone, Raylene was happy and satisfied with her life but everyone else around was not used to the idea of Raylene, a woman, living on her own all the way in the country. Most of her family was okay with it since she is a Boatwright and the Boatwrights are notorious for sleeping around, getting into fights, etc. Like Aunt Raylene’s niece, Aunt Ruth’s daughter, Deedee “had called her a lonely old woman once,…saying a woman was only lonely who wasn’t happy with herself,…only person any of us would meet who was completely satisfied with her own company”. (pg. 179).

Deedee, Aunt Ruth’s daughter, judged Raylene and how she lived but she never really knew how all of it happened. There are rumors about Raylene, that she ran off to the carnival to be with some guy but that wasn’t true. Raylene’s version of the story is that she ran away to the carnival for herself; she doesn’t tell the truth of what actually happened. She most likely feels ashamed what she had done to who she really wanted to run away with, what she made her loved one do, the ultimatum Raylene gave her loved one.

That choice Raylene made shaped her and it made her come home to live by herself on the edge of town, fishing all day and with no social company; Raylene made her choice, and she lives her life now, not stuck in the past but moving on with herself in the present.

Raylene has moved on with her past but she still lives with what the choices she chose to make. She gets past it though, she focuses on what’s happening in front of her not what is happening behind her. Her past still lingers on her because she always says “I don’t like surprises. I like to see who’s coming up on me”. (pg. 179). Raylene keeps her trees cut back and her shrubs low to the ground. It’s okay for people to not like surprises but Raylene is not completely over what happened when she was younger and in love otherwise she wouldn’t have returned home to live a life of solitude.

Raylene ran away to the carnival to be with a woman she loved but that woman had a kid and Raylene made her choose between her lover and her child. Her lover chose her child and Raylene has to live with choice for the rest of her life and she’s done pretty well. No one just stops by at Raylene; she usually knows people are coming and she lets them stay at her place doing whatever they want. To be surprised is difficult and for Raylene it would be difficult to be surprised because of what happened in her past.

Aunt Raylene is an adult who has shaped her life based on a choice she made when she was young. Raylene lives alone in the country, spending her time fishing without any social contact except maybe once a week at a card game. She doesn’t care for other’s people’s opinions even her family’s; she only cares about what she thinks and she believes she has made a satisfactory life for herself, where she is happy and not miserable. Raylene is perhaps the only Boatwright who is happy with her life and she made her own life out of her own choices. Everyone creates their life out of their own choices and they have to live with any consequences that can erupt from their decisions.

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Aunt Raylene's Bad Choices in Bastard Out of Carolina. (2023, Feb 19). Retrieved from

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