Medea in Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones

  • Benjamin Eldon StevensEmail author

Introduction: Towards ‘Salvage’ as a Model for Classical Reception

In this essay I examine the figure of Medea in Jesmyn Ward’s novel Salvage the Bones (2011; Salvage).1 Centering around a family living in the fictional town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, Salvage is narrated by the family’s only daughter, a thoughtful fifteen-year-old named Esch. Esch has learned about Medea as part of her required summer reading of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (Salvage 7).2She feels a strong connection to Medea which deepens as the novel goes on and she rereads Hamilton, comparing aspects of her own experience to certain events in the “ancient tale.” In particular Esch’s identification with Medea is a way of understanding her own experience as a young woman coming of age, entering motherhood and confronting the responsibilities it entails, and more generally responding to forces–in her body, in her community, and in nature–that are beyond her control but...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity UniversitySan AntonioUSA

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