The White Bone Analysis

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The White Bone is a fantasy-fiction novel by Barbara Gowdy, which follows the story of an adopted elephant cow, Mud, and her family as they try to find the fabled “Safe Place,” a region free from drought and elephant poachers. Mud, who had recently earned her cow name, She-Spurns, finds that she has visionary powers, which grant her the ability to occasionally see glimpses of the near future. Soon after this discovery, she receives a vision of another elephant herd; “All the faces are hacked off, the trunks tossed aside, the tusks gone and some of the feet as well…So these are the She-D’s. Twenty-three bodies she counts before her eye dims” (Gowdy, 42). Not too long later, the remaining four members of the She-D family seek refuge in the…show more content…
This theme is subtly shown throughout the story, but becomes more apparent after the main event, the slaughter. After Date Bed is presumed missing, Mud, despite the fact that she is not of She-S blood, shows concern for her friend and adopted family member throughout the story – “It is just as well that Mud’s thoughts can’t be heard because what she is thinking is, “I’m the one who loves her. None of you loves her as I do,” and the uselessness of her love arouses her to such a pitch of anguish that she thinks of returning to the plain and searching for Date Bed on her own” (Gowdy, 105). The other She-S’s feel the same way as well – She-Snorts states, “I would not go to The Safe Place…knowing that Date Bed might still be alive and lost” (Gowdy, 249). If the She-S’s didn’t care for their family as much, they would have abandoned all thought of Date Bed and wouldn’t bother searching for her. However, this theme is not only shown as concern for Date Bed; multiple times, the family warded off Me-Me the cheetah when she had come too close to the group in order to protect Bent, the calf of the family. Even She-Screams, who was about to offer Bent to Me-Me, changed her mind at the last second and rescued him – “Me-Me caught him and grasped him around the neck…The next thing he knew, She-Screams was there. She kicked out and Me-Me flew off his back and raced away bleating” (Gowdy, 285). She-Screams couldn’t bring…show more content…
It was slightly confusing at times, and the plot would be somewhat boring at times. Most of the characters were developed well, but some characters were confusing and seemed all over the place. The conflict, however, was very true to life, as elephant poachers do exist, and it’s apparent that the author did her research. The ending was quite bittersweet, as Date Bed had died by the time the family found her, and makes the reader unsure whether the elephants did end up making it to the Safe Place after all. There is also a lot of in-depth analysis required to fully understand the book, else the reader may get quite lost in the plot. Personally, I would improve this book by making it less complex, and giving the reader at least some closure at the end. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who dislikes reading about animal deaths, as most of the characters in the story end up dying in one way or another. However, I would recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for an animal novel that’s a bit more complex compared to stories like Watership
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