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Gender, Race and Class in: Winter’s Bone

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One of the most important themes in the movie Winter’s Bone is the submissive and ridged, traditional gender roles women adhere to throughout the film. Men are always portrayed as being in the authoritative position, and only two examples of women standing up to this authority come to mind. Class plays a major role in the movie as well. If ree were from a high-class family her house likely would not be up for her father’s bail. Racially, this is not a diverse film.

All the major characters are white, and that tells us a lot about the community that this movie is set it in.

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There are many important statements regarding gender, race, and class in the film Winter’s Bone. The movie carries with a very small diversity of class. Every character that was portrayed and developed was of the lower class, with the possible exceptions being the policemen, the bail bondsman, and the army recruiter. The implication is that those are people who drive from another part of town to the community Ree and her family live in.

Other than those mentioned the movie is set in a poor, rural community in Missouri. Ree and all her neighbors live in small, rundown houses that are very spread out from one another.

Inside, each house is cluttered with cheap furniture and little to no leisure activities. Ree lives with her depressed mother and her two younger siblings Sonny, age twelve, and Ashlee age six, are seemingly even poorer than the rest of their neighbors. Ree attends high school, is the one source of income and raises the children all without the help of her mother. A study done in rural Appalachia on young mothers showed that all the participants had two things in common; living in poverty and the support of their mothers. Rezek) While Ree is not the mother of Sonny and Ashlee, she is their primary caretaker. If the women in the study lived in poverty despite the support of their mothers, one can only imagine that the condition must be worse for Ree, who does not have the benefit of a mother to lean on. Ree clearly has a hard time keeping her and the kid financially afloat on her own.

Often, Ree and her siblings are forced to rely on the generosity of their neighbor Sonya for many food and provisions. Ree also spends time teaching her younger siblings how to hunt squirrels, mplying that they cannot afford enough food by their own means and must hunt to make ends meet. Depending on the interpretation, it is possible that another more subtle depiction of the family’s impoverished can be inferred in a scene where Ree is showing her younger siblings how to gut and clean a squirrel just shot. While gutting the squirrel Sonny asks Ree “Do we eat these parts? ” To which Ree grimly responds “Not yet. ” This could be Ree letting on that if their situation gets any more desperate, they may be forced to resort to eating parts of squirrels that are meant for eating.

Race does not play a large role in this movie, which tells you a lot about the community the movie is set in. None of the characters in the movie are people of color. This tells the audience that the movie is dealing with an all-white, poor, rural community. This allows the audience to fill in information regarding this community based on what is already known about such communities. Winter’s Bone contains some of the predominant stereotypes held towards rural dwellers of the United States. Everyone in the movie speaks with a thick, southern drawl and make very uneducated choices in their diction and grammar.

One character who Jessup (Ree’s father) had an affair with, described three men who accompanied Jessup. She said “They didn’t look to be having no fun, either. ” This is a double negative that gives the sentence the opposite meaning of what was intended. The Characters in Winter’s Bone commit many such errors throughout the film. Another stereotype found in the film is that drugs are common and widespread in rural areas. Ree’s father was a meth maker and dealer and other characters are shown doin drugs, or alluding to drugs in some way.

Instead of offering Ree some food or water for traveling to see them, Teardrop’s wife Victoria offers Ree a “dooby. ” The truth is that meth dealers are starting to migrate more into rural areas. As Keith Aller, deputy director of law enforcement for the U. S. Bureau of Land Management puts it; “In the past five years we’ve seen cookers take their labs to the forests and rural areas to avoid detection and to dump the toxic by-products of their work. ” (Sullivan) The movie is set in the state of Missouri, which to this day is known as the meth capital of the world.

In this case, the notion that drugs are very common in the rural area the movie is set it can be accepted as plausible. The characters in Winter’s Bone reinforce traditional gender roles and the notion that women should know their place in a man’s world. The women in the film are firmly under the authority of the men in their lives. Women consistently are ask for their husband’s permission to do something, and rarely do the women characters not immediately accept the husband’s decision. At the beginning of Ree’s search for her father, she visits the home of her uncle Teardrop.

Teardrop’s wife Victoria asks Teardrop to help Ree and is told to shut up. When she asks again Teardrop responds “I already said shut up once, with my mouth. ” The connotation in this statement being that Victoria continues to press the matter he will once again say shut up, this time through striking her. Victoria apologizes to Ree and doesn’t press the issue any further. This is a sad example of a male using an implied threat of violence to keep a position of power over a female. Male dominance is established continually throughout the film and it stands as one of the primary obstacles of Ree’s quest.

Ree’s best friend Gail is married and has a child and is clearly under the thumb of her husband, Floyd. In one scene, Gail walks into a room off-screen to ask her husband if she and Ree could borrow his truck. Gail is not gone long when she comes and tells Ree the answer is no. Gail clearly did not challenge her husband on her word; instead she simply took his word and acted upon it without any input of her own. Gail’s interaction with Floyd upset Ree, who argues with her friend for always submitting to her husband’s will. Gail explains “He doesn’t tell me why not, he just tells me no. Indeed, until the scene that shows Gail showing up at Ree’s doorstep with her husband’s truck keys, Ree is the only female character to challenge a women’s role in this community. Women feeling as though they must stay in their “place” provides by far the most resistance to Ree in her journey to find her father. Ree’s mother is depressed, withdrawn and medicated. Given that the other marriages portrayed in the movie establish as the man having authority over the other, it can be inferred that Ree’s mother was under the authority of a now absentee meth maker.

It is not difficult to imagine how living an in poverty with three kids to feed and submitting to such a man could lead to her condition. Ree’s mother is described as having been “born to this house,” a clear indication that her “place” as a women was the home. The rigid submissive roles in place for women in this community have in large part lead to the depression that incapacitated Ree’s mother. In closing, the movie Winter’s Bone deals with many the weaker perspective in the social constructions of gender, class, and race.

It portrays a community in which women are expected to be submissive to the will of their husbands. Ree and Gail are the only characters shown resisting this part of the culture. The notion that drugs are rampant in rural areas is prevelant in the movie, and studies show that this is true in real life as well. Race does not play an explicit role in the film, but an implicit one. While race does not present any of the main challenges dealt with in the film, the fact that every character in the film is white allows the audience to fill in information based on it’s stereotypes of white, poor people living in rural areas.


Rezek, Jan. (2010): n. page. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://ehis. ebscohost. com. ezproxy2. drake. brockport. edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? vid=4&hid=103&sid=662e985b-36ed-4357- sullivan, mark t. (2006): n. page. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://ehis. ebscohost. com. ezproxy2. drake. brockport. edu/ehost/detail? [email protected]&vid=1&hid=4&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==

Cite this Gender, Race and Class in: Winter’s Bone

Gender, Race and Class in: Winter’s Bone. (2017, Jan 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/gender-race-and-class-in-winters-bone/

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