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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Biography Plot Overview Synopsis Character Lists Themes Reflection
Barbara Kingsolver was born on April 8, 1955, in Annapolis, Maryland. Her father, Wendell, was a physician serving a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, and her mother, Virginia, was his junior-high sweetheart. Barbara was the middle of three children. When she was young and her father was released from service, the whole family moved to rural Kentucky, where Wendell practiced medicine and the whole family ran a farm. Barbara's family was extremely close knit. They did not have a lot of material goods, but this taught the young girl the complexities of socio-economic divides. What they did have was love and a commitment to living a principled life. When she was young, her parents took the children to live in Africa, where her father practiced medicine in a remote outpost. Here, young Barbara was an outsider who looked different from and was not immediately accepted by the other children. From this experience, she learned the hardships that outsiders face. Later, her family would live for several months in the Caribbean while Wendell practiced medicine there. Home, however, was rural Kentucky. When Kingsolver finished high school, she won a music scholarship to DePauw University in Indiana. She had always been a voracious reader, but she saw little opportunity for herself in Kentucky. In college, she participated in the liberal politics of the time, protesting the war in Vietnam and identifying herself as a feminist. She also consciously gave up her Kentucky accent. She also became a victim of acquaintance rape, a crime for which the legal system at the time had little recognition. Kingsolver faced her despair and shame in private. After graduation, she worked and traveled in Europe. Upon her return home, she bought a used car and moved from Kentucky to Arizona, where she wanted to start a life for herself. She knew no one but quickly found an apartment and a good job. She also joined the Sanctuary movement, which helped Latin American persecuted refugees find safe havens in the United States. She began a graduate program in biology and ecology in 1979, but ultimately decided against an academic life and left the program without completing her
Lily. Barbara Kingsolver now divides her time between Arizona and Appalachia. which was published in 1988. she was already a successful writer. was published in 2002.dissertation. When her marriage ended in 1992. The Bean Trees. The Poisonwood Bible (1999). who would become the father of her second daughter. Small Wonder. as does the social conscience that was instilled by her early life. She worked as a science writer and a journalist. her scientific background colors much of her writing. in 1987. Steven Hopp. Pigs in Heaven (1993). The sleeplessness of pregnancy gave her the time and motivation to write her first novel. She traveled to Virginia and met her second husband. She married Joseph Hoffmann in 1985 and gave birth to a daughter." so named because all the players are successful writers. Kingsolver's professional and personal lives began to develop. and Prodigal Summer (2001). She continues to publish successful fiction and non-fiction. She also plays in a band called "Rock Bottom Remainders. Kingsolver's other novels include Animal Dreams (1990). Camille. A collection of Kingsolver's essays. Yet. 2 .
Taylor goes on to tell the story of Newt Hardbine. When Taylor’s two back tires blow out. getting ready to leave. When Angel comes home to gather up some of his things. a kind. Mattie takes to Turtle right away. Taylor discovers that the baby. Taylor has been afraid of tires. Taylor says goodbye to her beloved mother. or by her nickname. and leaves Pittman County. another Kentuckian living in Tucson. and while bathing the baby. As she sits in her car. Lou Ann has been abandoned by her husband. and she stops in an old bar for a cup of coffee and a hamburger. Angel. She did so by avoiding pregnancy. There she meets the owner. Arizona. They go to a hotel. but drives off with the child. Eventually. Taylor moves into a Tucson hotel with Turtle and finds a job working at the Burger Derby. 3 . Dwayne Ray. Taylor was the one to escape small-town life. for good. She tells Taylor she is the sister of the child’s mother and that the baby was born in a Plymouth car. remembers a moment in her childhood when Newt Hardbine’s father was thrown to the top of the Chevron sign after his tractor tire exploded.Plot Overview The Bean Trees opens in rural Kentucky. Kentucky. She ends up in Taylorville. Her car breaks down in the middle of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. has been abused and sexually molested. she gives birth to a son. Marietta. getting a job working at the hospital. Taylor Greer. About five years after high school graduation. The woman leaves with no further explanation. wise woman named Mattie. The narrative switches to the story of Lou Ann Ruiz. Missy. and Granny Logan brings water from the Tug Fork River in Kentucky. Taylor is bewildered. a girl. Taylor and Turtle make it to Tucson. On January1. and saving up enough money to buy herself an old Volkswagon bug. Ever since then. The protagonist decides that she will drive until her car runs out of gas and then take a new name based on wherever she is when her car stops. he pours the water down the drain. a peer of Taylor’s who died while Taylor was still in high school. Lou Ann’s mother and Granny Logan come west to visit the baby. a woman approaches and puts a baby in the front seat of Taylor’s car. which she suggests should be used to baptize the baby. who is known at the beginning of the novel by her given name. She names the baby Turtle because the girl clings to things like a mud turtle. Taylor goes to an auto-repair shop called Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. telling her to take it. Although Newt and Taylor seemed like identical kids when they were small. Alice Greer. and changes her name from Marietta to Taylor. The novel’s protagonist.
Estevan and Esperanza. On the night of the first summer rain. That same day. The two women become fast friends. Taylor is left with no option but to take a job working for Mattie at Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. Taylor takes Turtle to see a doctor and finds that Turtle’s growth has been stunted because she was abused. Without work. the police investigation into the attack on Turtle 4 . and Taylor into the desert to see the natural world come to life. but a threeyear-old. Estevan. Mattie takes Esperanza. No sooner does she start her new job than Angel sends a package with presents for Lou Ann and Dwayne Ray. One day Taylor meets two of Mattie’s friends. To make matters worse. a blind woman named Edna Poppy. The government wanted the names of union members from Estevan and Esperanza and took their daughter. and because of her disability. Choosing to save seventeen lives instead of trying to get their daughter back. Angel tells Lou Ann that he is leaving her for good. Estevan spends the night on Taylor’s couch. Turtle is not a baby. as a way of forcing them to tell. Taylor returns and hears as much of the story as Edna can tell: Edna heard struggling and swung in the direction of the attacker with her cane. A month or so later. He tells her that he and Esperanza had to leave behind a child in Guatemala. Soon. he ends up divulging the story of their past. Taylor has started her new job. and Taylor takes the room. a married couple from Guatemala. Edna does not notice when a prowler approaches Turtle. and a letter asking her to come live with him in Montana. to let him come back and live with her in Tucson. Turtle does not seem hurt. Turtle is left with her baby-sitter. After a few weeks. but she has stopped speaking and has the same vacuous look in her eyes that she had when Taylor first saw her. if she does not want to do that.Meanwhile. or. but she quits six days later. Ismene. She hit him and then felt Turtle tugging on the hem of her skirt. Edna and Turtle go to the park. it is evident that they are illegal aliens living with other illegal aliens in Mattie’s home above the tire shop. When Estevan comes to tell Taylor this news. the couple fled their country. Mattie’s friend Esperanza attempts suicide. and finds a room for rent listed in the paper. Lou Ann refuses to take him back. supporting herself in the absence of her husband. The room turns out to belong to Lou Ann. as her size indicates. Taylor realizes she is falling in love with him. Turtle’s trauma and the difficulties of Estevan and Esperanza make Taylor depressed. She begins to look for a place to live. After consideration. Lou Ann gets a job at a salsa factory.
Once in the office of Mr. the legal authority in Oklahoma. Taylor concocts a plan to convince the authorities in Oklahoma that Estevan and Esperanza are Turtle’s biological parents. The social worker in Tucson gives Taylor the name of a legal advisor in Oklahoma. Taylor then calls her mother. Esperanza and Estevan pretend to be Turtle’s biological parents. During that time. Taylor will be forced to give her to a state ward or find a way around the law. Mattie becomes worried about Estevan and Esperanza’s safety. Esperanza sobs real tears at the prospect of giving up Turtle. where the laws are different. While there. Taylor decides she will transport Estevan and Esperanza to another sanctuary for illegal immigrants in Oklahoma. 5 . who looked so much like Turtle. A recent crackdown on illegal immigration will force them to find a new home and a way of getting there. Taylor returns to the bar where she received Turtle but finds that it has changed owners. There are no signs of the people she met there seven months before. Taylor says a tearful goodbye to Estevan. Taylor and Turtle drop off Esperanza and Estevan at their new home. who comforts her. and Estevan decide to go to the Lake o’ the Cherokees. she will look for Turtle’s relatives and see if they will consent to a legal adoption. a place that both of them now call home. Esperanza. and Taylor realizes that Esperanza is grieving the loss of her own daughter. Taylor and Turtle head back to Tucson. Taylor. Once in Oklahoma.reveals that Taylor has no legal claim on Turtle. Armistead. a church in Oklahoma.
With her mother’s encouragement. when she lived in Pittman County in rural Kentucky and was known as Missy. a vast expanse that depresses Taylor with its flatness. Taylor’s favorite colors. and Newt drops out to work on his father’s tobacco field. one of whom is wearing red and turquoise. since he tells his class of a “real job” working at Pittman County Hospital. As she drives off. but Taylor makes up her mind to avoid pregnancy. Later that night she decides she will not quit her job. Hughes Walter for changing her life. Exhausted. she buys a rundown ’55Volkswagen bug and decides to leave Pittman for good. who was inflating his tractor tire when it overfilled and exploded. From clues and insinuations. they have enough Cherokee blood that they are permitted to live in the Cherokee Nation if they choose. when Taylor is working at the hospital. 6 . With the money Taylor earns from her job. she has changed her name to Taylor. She credits her handsome science teacher Mr. Taylor explains that she and Newt Hardbine look like brother and sister. (To avoid confusion. she stops in a bar for some coffee. she is referred to as Taylor throughout this summary. Since then. throwing him to the top of a Chevron sign. we gather that years of abuse and neglect from his father led Newt to shoot Jolene and himself. At the bar sit an Indian man and a mean-looking white cowboy. The horror of the scene makes Taylor vomit. He impregnates a girl named Jolene Shanks and marries her. She picks out a postcard decorated with a picture of two Indian women on it.” Taylor continues to attend high school. Taylor says that no one could predict whether she or Newt would be the one to “get away. Taylor finds the Nation disappointing. Jolene and Newt are brought into the emergency room. Many girls at the high school drop out to have babies.Synopsis Chapter One: The One to Get Away The narrator begins by recounting events in her adolescence. Like the Hardbines. She breaks the second promise when the bug dies on the Great Plains of Oklahoma. and Newt is dead. Jolene’s shoulder is bleeding from a bullet wound. Her mother realizes that Taylor wants to leave and makes her daughter prove that she can change the car tires and tend to the car if it breaks down. Taylor’s car breaks down in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. She ends up calling herself Taylor because she runs out of gas in Taylorville. The accident left him deaf. An Indian woman sits at a table.) Taylor tells the story of Newt Hardbine’s father. Taylor and her mother have “head rights”—that is. since she has survived the worst she will see. Taylor and her mother are poor. She also promises herself to drive west until her car dies and then settle wherever she ends up. Taylor applies for the job and gets it. One day. Taylor (who at this point still goes by the name Missy) promises herself that she will change her name by driving until the gas runs out and naming herself after whatever town she happens to land in.
The narrator describes Halloween. enjoying the novelty of personal space. and it keeps so quiet that Taylor wonders whether it is alive or dead. Lou Ann realizes that Angel has left her. a picture of himself at the rodeo. When Taylor gets into her car to leave. omniscient narrator who introduces us to Lou Ann Ruiz. Children come to 7 . since Angel lost his leg on Christmas. “I found my head rights. but he left behind all the kitchen things and sheets and blankets. almost throws up.looking cautiously at the men. The doctor informs Lou Ann that she must lose weight. and as the chapter opens. Taylor starts driving. telling her to take it. She puts the baby to bed and writes a postcard to her mother. the day on which Angel leaves Lou Ann. Lee Sing. She observes what he left behind and what he took with him. a store featuring a large painted mural of Jesus with a tire dangling below him. Then she walks away. Lou Ann is pregnant. Lou Ann feels that Angel no longer likes her or anyone else. she stops at a motel. the woman follows her and sets a baby down in the passenger seat.” Chapters Two : New Year’s Pig The narrative voice shifts from Taylor to that of an anonymous. She gets off the bus and walks past Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. She says only that the baby belongs to her dead sister and that Taylor should not go back into the bar. saying. a Kentuckian living in Tucson. has just left her. Taylor. Lou Ann goes to the doctor and. her brother also left. she does not want her baby to feel robbed of his own special birthday. When Taylor realizes the child has wet itself. Taylor gives the child a bath and sees that it is a girl and that she has been bruised and sexually abused. while in the waiting room. and the television. Mama. Moreover. When Lou Ann got pregnant. She has negative associations with the day. the owner. He took beer mugs. Lou Ann stops at Lee Sing Market to buy diet food. Arizona. At home. In the motel room. leaving the baby with Taylor. They’re coming with me. She takes the bus home. She cannot determine the child’s gender. Because of her pregnancy. Offended. predicts Lou Ann will have a girl. and she thinks that his choices reveal more about him than she learned in nearly five years of marriage. where she persuades the kind woman working at the front desk to let them stay free of charge. hopes that her child will not be born on Christmas. Three years earlier. shocked. Lou Ann thinks that even though she proved Lee Sing right by leaving her native Kentucky. a nightclub and pornography shop. Angel accused her of wanting to sleep with other people. Angel. which he might if it fell on a holiday. Lee Sing says having a girl is like feeding the neighbor’s New Year pig—all your care goes into something that will end up with another family. Convinced that his amputation repulsed Lou Ann. she stopped having sex with him. Next to the tire store is Fanny Heaven. Angel lost the lower half of his leg in a car accident. her husband. men no longer make suggestive remarks or brush up against her.
He seems nervous and leaves quickly. this woman who understands cars and runs her own business. She meets a friendly woman named Sandi who works at Burger Derby and has a baby boy. Taylor and Turtle leave the hotel and start driving. Taylor marvels at Mattie. which is filled with flowers. the topography and sky seem so surreal to Taylor that she decides to stay there. She weeps. A man points out that she has two flat tires. Another day. vegetables. and it thrills her that Taylor comes from Kentucky Chapter Four: Tug Fork Water 8 . Hoge with the chores and earning a little money. One day she ventures into a museum filled with modern. A few blocks down the road. and thinks that in her hometown such a woman would be scorned and ignored. Mattie explains that she and her late husband opened the place and that he was a fanatical Christian. helping Mrs. and Taylor puzzles over this lack of prudery in someone who owns a shop called Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. When they reach Arizona. her feet are so swollen she cannot get her shoes off. Mattie takes Taylor and Turtle out to the back of the house. and the city seems years ahead of Kentucky. Mattie drinks from a mug decorated with pictures of rabbits having sex. Taylor cannot afford new ones. To cheer up Taylor. Around New Year’s Day. where they see her amazing and unusual garden. who vows they are descendants of seeds she brought from China in 1907. Sandi loves the Kentucky Derby. the kind older woman who runs the place. Taylor finds Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. She has named the baby Turtle because of its firm grip. When Lou Ann goes to bed. but she is turned away. There she meets Mattie. It begins to hail. and car parts. A priest stops by. Tucson feels like a foreign country to Taylor. Mattie tells Taylor that Taylor’s two back tires are shot. An Indian family sits in his station wagon.her door and for a moment frighten her until she remembers it is Halloween. the seeds of which she received from the Chinese woman next door. she asks about a job at the hospital. including an entire Thunderbird minus the wheels. She and Turtle stay in the cheap Hotel Republic downtown. Mattie invites her and Turtle inside and gives Taylor coffee and Turtle apple juice and crackers. nonrepresentational sculptures made of sand. and Taylor pulls off the highway in Tucson. Chapters Three : Jesus Is Lord Used Tires Taylor stays through Christmas at the hotel in Oklahoma. Mattie shows Taylor her purple beans.
At home again. and they take turns checking on the kids to make it look as if they are shopping. and Granny instructs Lou Ann to baptize Dwayne Ray with it. Lou Ann stops to buy some tomatoes from Bobby Bingo. Dwayne Ray. Lou Ann’s mother says she never wanted to move out and get a place alone with her husband. saying that hot weather in January will harm the baby. and when Lou Ann smells beer on his breath. Lou Ann smiles and says happily that Taylor talks just like she does. Lou Ann is overjoyed. Angel has agreed to move back in until the mother and grandmother leave in order to keep up an appearance of marital happiness. 9 . Taylor goes to the second listing. She thinks about how she kept up a false appearance all week for her mother and grandmother and finds it hard to believe she divulged her secret to a man she hardly knows. they lived with her. Lou Ann nurses Dwayne Ray and tries to remember her own baptism. Within minutes of meeting. “I’m just a plain hillbilly from East Jesus Nowhere with this adopted child that everybody keeps on telling me is dumb as a box of rocks.” At this speech. which turns out to be Lou Ann’s house. Angel asks Lou Ann what it is and then pours it down the drain after hearing that it is Kentucky water for Dwayne Ray’s baptism. Ivy. and Lou Ann imagines going back to Kentucky with them. Granny Logan complains about the heat in Tucson and accuses Lou Ann of putting on airs. Taylor quarrels with her boss and gets fired. the two women are laughing hysterically about the soy-milk collective crowd. who just scrape by. The first place she visits belongs to three new-age hippies named Fei. Granny Logan keeps the curtains shut all the time. saying. Lou Ann asks her mother if Granny Logan always lived with Lou Ann’s mother and father. and Fei explains that the house is a soy-milk collective and each household member must spend seven hours a week straining curd. Chapters Five : Harmonious Space After meeting Sandi at Burger Derby. she pulls a Coke bottle filled with cloudy water. Taylor and Sandi leave their children at the free baby-sitting service the mall provides for mall patrons. The two older women depart for Kentucky. Taylor tells Lou Ann to stop thinking that everyone is better than she is. and Timothy. La-Isha lectures Taylor on the dangers of hot dogs after hearing that Turtle eats them. she thinks of all the places he frequents of which she knows nothing. They talk easily about their Kentucky origins and their children. When Taylor asks if she can move in. After only six days of working at the Burger Derby. It is water from the Tug Fork River. and Lou Ann introduces Dwayne Ray. Worried about her dwindling funds. sitting on the bus between the two constantly feuding women. Angel comes home. Lou Ann tells Taylor she worried that Taylor and Turtle were too smart and cute for her and Dwayne Ray. Taylor looks through the papers for people advertising a room for rent and finds two promising ads. He picks up a few of his things. While they work. Her mother tells her that Granny Logan didn’t live with them. because she would have been frightened being alone. have come from Kentucky to visit Lou Ann and her new baby. La-Isha. When he sees the bottle of Tug Fork water in the bathroom. who was born on the first of January. From her purse.Lou Ann’s paternal Grandmother Logan and mother. where Lou Ann was baptized. On the way home from the bus stop. Taylor tells Lou Ann the story of Turtle. Lou Ann surprises herself by telling him Angel has left her. Taylor gets a job there.
speaks better English than any of the American characters do. On the way home. and although Taylor loves Mattie. Lou Ann howls with laughter. Taylor confesses her fear. a possibility Lou Ann never considered. and Turtle go on a picnic near a beautiful creek. Taylor tells Lou Ann her philosophy about men. and Mattie’s beans freeze. Esperanza and Estevan are a married couple from Guatemala City. who taught English there. She worries that Angel left her because she got drunk that night. Esperanza keeps staring at Turtle. Esperanza and Estevan. Estevan and Taylor take a swim in the ice-cold creek water. Taylor. but it is for people. for she feels that if Turtle 10 . Taylor asks Lou Ann to stop doing her favors. and when Taylor says she has heard of bird sanctuaries. Mattie. Taylor feels relieved that Turtle’s first sound was a laugh. which she picked up from instructions on installing a toilet part. it reassures Taylor that she is doing a decent job of raising Turtle. in a bad mood. Taylor gets teary-eyed at the sight of the bird family.Chapters Six : Valentine’s Day The first frost comes to Tucson on Valentine’s Day. and Lou Ann tells Taylor that if something was bothering Angel. realizes she dislikes the idea that she and Lou Ann are acting like an old married couple—Taylor goes to work. Mattie wants Taylor to work at Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. Mattie says her house is similar. instead of being touched. and Estevan explains to Taylor that Turtle reminds Esperanza of a child they knew in Guatemala. Once. and after a while Lou Ann realizes she is drunk. but no installation requires all of the parts. Estevan. and she didn’t remember it. go with them. Lou Ann thinks that Angel. Dwayne Ray. Mattie likens her house to a sanctuary. Lou Ann got drunk. The two women keep drinking and talking. The two women stay up. Chapter Seven: How They Eat in Heaven In March. The next day. Taylor says that perhaps Angel was trying to trick Lou Ann and the meteor shower never existed. and Lou Ann cooks and takes care of the kids. she agrees to work for Mattie. As part of the deal. One day. Angel asked if she remembered the meteor shower they had seen. “Parts are included for all installations. Finally. Lou Ann watches Turtle and Dwayne Ray while Taylor works. she and Angel and another couple went out to the desert to look at shooting stars. and Mattie calms Taylor a little by explaining that tire explosions are relative to their size and that tractor tires explode more dramatically than the car tires her store services. Taylor learns that many Spanish-speaking people live with Mattie. witnessing the accident that killed Newt Hardbine’s father left her with a fear of tires. laughing and talking.” Taylor does not believe a man exists who could use all the parts of her personality. would have wondered how many birds he could hit. Turtle reacts to the sudden stop by doing a somersault and making her first sound: laughter. Taylor. Lou Ann. he would never stay up late with her just to eat and talk together. She tells Taylor that she never drinks for fear of doing something awful in front of her friends. they have to slam on the brakes to make way for a family of quail. The instructions on the package said. Two of Mattie’s friends. Over a beer. Mattie gives Taylor two free back tires for her car.
she would let him move back in. the concept of asylum. Taylor has just found out that her mother plans to marry Harland Elleston. starving to death because they must eat with long-handled spoons and cannot manage to get the spoons in their mouths. When Taylor asks. Heaven. and Lou Ann feels relieved that someone understands her. Parsons mentions that Angel stopped by Lou Ann’s house this morning while Lou Ann was out. and neither does Taylor. Lou Ann tells Taylor about her fear that the horrible things she imagines will happen in real life. Lou Ann tells Taylor she should feel good that her mother has enough life in her to marry again. who is scheduled to appear on TV. Esperanza and Estevan also come over. same food. Lou Ann reminisces about her excitement when she first met Angel. she would not laugh. A little later. who works washing dishes at a Chinese restaurant. Parsons walk by.were unhappy. 11 . and she accuses Taylor of disliking men. and Taylor relates them to a biblical story about water pouring out of a rock. Parsons turns up her nose at them. She tells Taylor that in high school she stood looking over a cliff and imagined jumping. and Taylor jokes with Edna. Estevan demonstrates by feeding Turtle a new piece of pineapple. Edna Poppy and Mrs. Mrs. people sit around a big table with plenty of food. That night. thinking longingly of Estevan. On television. The wisteria vines in the park that once seemed dead now bloom a beautiful purple. Edna Poppy and Mrs. he says. Parsons. Parsons assumes that Turtle is Esperanza and Estevan’s child. Mrs. Mattie talks about human rights. After imagining it. but Mrs. Taylor says she has felt similarly. Edna and Virgie do not understand Mattie’s remarks. the people use the long-handled spoons to feed one another. Turtle tries to put a piece of pineapple in her mouth with her chopsticks. Taylor disagrees. which the local kids call Dog Doo Park. She says she used to worry that she would say something rude in the middle of church. Lou Ann says that if Angel wanted to. To make her feel better and to chasten Mrs. She goes on to remark that immigrants should “stay put in their own dirt” and not take American jobs. He says that in hell. Chapter Eight: The Miracle of Dog Doo Park Taylor and Lou Ann sit with Turtle and Dwayne Ray in Roosevelt Park. Estevan.” One night. Turtle sits in the dirt saying the names of vegetables. she became terrified that she actually would jump. and the violence visited upon immigrants who are forced to return to their countries of origin. looks just the same: same table. the United Nations. and calls her a naked wild Indian. but cannot. come to Lou Ann’s house for dinner and to watch Mattie. as she always does. same spoons. Estevan tells a story. as Turtle and Taylor help Mattie plant the garden. who works at a paint and body store. But in heaven. two elderly neighbors. Virgie Parsons. Turtle says her first word: “bean. has brought chopsticks to eat dinner with. who is wearing all red. Much to her dismay.
Estevan implies that Taylor has chosen to ignore these horrors. and Taylor feels terribly attracted to Estevan. Lou Ann will resent her if Angel ever returns. Dr. saying she does not approve of 12 .One day. Parson’s rude comments about immigrants. she “fall[s] back on good solid female traditions. that person deserves it. where a bird has made a nest in a cactus.” and she tells Estevan she will either keep feeding him or keep talking. Taylor slowly begins to understand what Mattie meant when she called her shop a sanctuary. She explains the cliques at her high school. He says that she is like most Americans. Taylor and Estevan compliment each other’s speech: Taylor loves Estevan’s impeccable English. the x-rays indicate that she is actually three. They sit next to each other on the couch and talk. he assures her that failure to thrive is a reversible condition. Scotty Richey. At the top of the social ladder came the town kids. Turtle looks up quickly. and Estevan comes to tell Taylor the news. When the nurse assumes Taylor is Turtle’s foster mother. After they go to the doctor. who think that if something bad happens to someone. looking for people who need a safe place to hide. While he talks. Taylor refers to the month of April. Estevan talks about torture techniques used in Guatemala. Taylor keeps Estevan company in her house. then the farm kids (her group). she gets angry at Esperanza.” He shows Taylor x-rays of Turtle’s compound fractures and says that although he assumed Turtle was two years old. but Scotty did not fit in anywhere. then the motorcycle crowd. Taylor tries to apologize to Estevan for Mrs. Taylor and Turtle meet Lou Ann at the zoo. When Taylor protests that Turtle has been growing of late. He tells Taylor that the police use telephones to shock sensitive body parts with electricity. Taylor learns that Angel came back to tell Lou Ann he is leaving for good to join a rodeo on the ColoradoMontana circuit. Suddenly. had someone. and she defends herself. who. but Taylor explains that if she criticizes Angel now. Pelinowsky determines that Turtle stopped growing as a result of her abuse. but nevertheless tried to kill herself. a condition called “failure to thrive. Taylor realizes that in times of crisis. People come and go often and quietly. Chapter Nine : Ismene Esperanza attempts suicide by swallowing a bottle of aspirin. Lou Ann accuses Taylor of taking Angel’s side. who electrocuted himself on his sixteenth birthday. and the women realize that Turtle’s real name is April. Over the course of their conversation. She tells a story about a classmate. He tells her to talk. Taylor says that even the Nutters had one another. Taylor does not correct her assumption. unlike Scotty. and Mattie frequently leaves for days at a time. who were called Nutters because they earned money by picking walnuts. “going birdwatching”—that is. Taylor decides to take Turtle to the doctor on account of her history of abuse. While Mattie takes Esperanza to a clinic. Taylor looks out the window into the garden. and he thinks her Kentucky accent and expressions are poetic.
and the cat. the four of them on the sofa could be the perfect Family of Dolls. Taylor considers it another miracle that these flowers have turned to beans. trying to say the right thing. Turtle. Esperanza and Estevan chose saving their fellow union members’ lives over getting their daughter back.” Taylor follows her eyes to see that the flowers on the wisteria vine have gone to seed. “bean trees. He tells Taylor that he and Esperanza had a daughter named Ismene. She thinks that if the world were different. including his mother. and Taylor and Estevan sleep on the couch. thinks him the meanest of the bunch. who is staying at Mattie’s house. and thinks about a family of paper dolls she had when she was little. She happily recounts that Angel’s entire family. Taylor feels more optimistic. Estevan. They sit under the wisteria arbor. It seems they still consider Lou Ann part of their family. She tells Esperanza she loves her name. Lou Ann and Taylor take the children to Roosevelt Park. Estevan and Taylor curl up together in their sleep. because they knew twenty people in the union and the government wanted the names of those people. Turtle goes back to bed.America’s policies and often feels like a foreigner in Tucson. who is holding a white cane. Taylor goes into Lee Sing’s grocery. so it took Ismene to bait Esperanza and Estevan into handing over the names. but when Taylor wakes and thinks of all Esperanza has suffered.” Estevan tells her she does not know what Esperanza has lived through. Taylor sees herself. During the visit. who was taken in a raid on their old neighborhood. A number of odd facts suddenly make sense to Taylor. The government wanted to keep them alive since they had valuable information. Edna always wears red because it makes dressing easier. and Edna looks over people’s heads when she talks to them because she can only look in the general direction of their voices. Lou Ann returns from a reunion with the Ruizes. She hears birds singing and talks with Lou Ann about their calls. Angel’s family. Turtle wakes up and joins them. and Taylor chatters. where Edna Poppy is shopping. Estevan’s and Esperanza’s membership in the teacher’s union made them targets. Edna. Esperanza stays quiet. With a start. asks Taylor to tell her if she is holding lemons or limes. Taylor goes to visit Esperanza. The house where she and Lou Ann live is becoming more like a household composed of two women and their children and less like a space Angel left behind. which was so far beyond her grasp. and they fled to the United States. After the trip to the park. Chapters Ten : The Bean Trees The morning after Esperanza’s suicide attempt. which means both hope and wait. Taylor realizes that Edna is blind. She says she longed for the family the dolls had. Turtle looks up at the vines and says. producing green pods that look just like beans. Virgie Parsons always announces everyone’s name when the two walk into a room so Edna will know who is present. coming as she does from a place were “they use dirt for decoration and the national pastime is having babies. she kisses Estevan’s hand and goes to her own bed alone. Estevan says that captured children such as Ismene get adopted by families who can afford to care for them—military or government couples. and that Esperanza reminds her of Turtle because 13 . Taylor cries.
both understand everything people say even though people forget they are listening. Taylor runs into Lou Ann. The group 14 . Taylor fears that Lou Ann will go live with Angel. an angel came to her and told her that Dwayne Ray would not live to see the year 2000. the government would almost certainly assassinate them. Lou Ann has been terrified that Dwayne Ray will die. She feels flattered that he misses her. Taylor tells her she is sorry for Esperanza’s lost child and that she hopes Esperanza will never give up hope. where she puts her heart and soul into her work. and Lou Ann expresses her disgust at the strip joint. they talk about Lou Ann’s tendency to worry. Since girlhood. and Taylor feels that tears are better than the emptiness that filled Esperanza’s eyes when Taylor first arrived. On the way home. especially the door handle that pushes into a painting of a woman’s crotch. Esperanza begins to cry. According to Lou Ann. Lou Ann’s possible departure and Esperanza and Estevan’s troubles upset Taylor. Lou Ann stops making disparaging remarks about her own body. She tells them that the Native Americans who used to live in the desert celebrated New Year’s Day on the day of the first summer rain. Angel sends a box of presents: a hair clip for Lou Ann and a pair of boots for Dwayne Ray. where the man called her “sweetheart” and stared at her breasts. if they could prove their lives were in danger when they left Central America. As they walk home.S. Lou Ann loves her job and brings home all kinds of salsa and new recipes. but she cares about her new responsibilities at the factory. They could stay in the U. Chapters Twelve : Into the Terrible Night One afternoon in July the cicadas stop buzzing and Taylor and Mattie hear thunder in the distance.” Chapters Eleven : Dream Angels Lou Ann gets a job at the Red Hot Mama’s salsa factory. In Guatemala. scared that she would imagine herself dead. Esperanza. who has been out looking for jobs. In the dream. they pass by Fanny Heaven. so Taylor usually puts the children to bed. Although the factory reminds Taylor of a sweatshop. Lou Ann tells her about an interview for a job at a convenience store. saying she wants them to smell the first rain. her own and Dwayne Ray’s horoscopes supported this premonition. but Taylor tells her that her tendency to worry also makes her a caring. Lou Ann debates what to do. She works an evening shift. Mattie closes up shop and takes Taylor. Lou Ann has feared death. and Estevan to the desert. she and her brother played a game in which they imagined themselves older. careful person and mother. Since then. Lou Ann tells Taylor that she had a dream right after Dwayne Ray was born. but they do not have any documents to prove their case. Taylor tells her to stop ignoring the door and “talk back to it. but she refused to dream past her teenage years. One evening. As a child. where she has been promoted to floor manager. Toward the end of the conversation. Mattie is worried that Estevan and Esperanza will be deported. He also sends a letter saying he misses Lou Ann and wants her and Dwayne Ray to come live in his yurt (domed tent) with him. and then the two women eat a late supper together when Lou Ann gets home. Lou Ann recognizes her thoughts as irrational and berates herself.
Chapters Thirteen : Night – Blooming Cereus Taylor and Turtle meet twice a week with Cynthia. a policeman and social worker arrive. After the incident. outraged by this information. a social worker whose prim professionalism sometimes irks Taylor. Rain clouds move in. Lou Ann tells her something has happened to Turtle. and eventually Taylor and Mrs. The bird bangs into the window and falls back on the counter. Lou Ann. When Taylor gets home. Parsons deal with a sparrow that has flown into the house. but she says that she heard struggling and swung her cane in the direction of the noise. She avoids eating and spends most of her time at work. when Taylor struck her as a “bewildered parent. Taylor excuses herself to help Mrs. Turtle was in the park with Edna Poppy. Taylor makes an appointment to talk to Cynthia about Turtle’s custody. Taylor asks if laws regarding custody are different on Indian reservations. Edna does not know exactly what happened. Turtle is a ward of the state. Cynthia finds out about Turtle’s past and tells Taylor that Taylor has no legal claim to the child. telling the surprised Taylor that she saw through Taylor’s show of confidence on that first day. Taylor realizes that Cynthia is on her side and wants Taylor to keep Turtle. she realizes that something is wrong when she sees Lou Ann’s face.” A medical examiner finds bruises on Turtle’s shoulder but no evidence of molestation. Mattie has not found a way to get Esperanza and Estevan out of the state and into another sanctuary. Mrs. and how she should go about finding out about how laws differ in other states. Over the course of the conversation. who chased the bird instead of tending to Turtle.” Mattie tries to tell her now that no parent can offer a child a perfect upbringing and that the only question Taylor must ask herself is whether she wants to do the best she can for Turtle. On the walk back to the car. but it gets back up. tries to persuade Taylor to find some way around the law. She reminisces with Taylor about their first meeting. Parsons thinks it is dead. and seems ready to give up any effort to keep Turtle. Because of her blindness. Parsons manage to get it out the door and “into the terrible night. she is angry with Taylor. rain drenches them for a moment.climbs up to a hill and listens to the thunder. whose eyes are as blank as they were when Taylor found her in Oklahoma. Lou Ann wants to take care of Turtle and find the perpetrator. Within a few minutes. who was baby-sitting her. Lou Ann laments the change in the once-gutsy Taylor. they see a rattlesnake curling up a tree. After a sleepless 15 . Taylor feels hopeless and depressed. Cynthia helps Taylor by giving her the number of someone in Oklahoma who could give her legal advice. Without a legal guardian. presumably looking for birds’ eggs. and then the storm moves on. when a man attacked Turtle. Taylor looks at Turtle. Taylor feels absolutely despondent. Eventually.
Taylor thinks to brake but realizes that stopping for a dead bird does not do any good. and begins to worry. and Taylor thinks that Stephen Foster. Taylor decides she will drive to Oklahoma to take Esperanza and Estevan to a sanctuary and look for Turtle’s relatives. stopping at the Broken Arrow Motor Lodge. Esperanza. She recalls a moment when Esperanza showed her the St. and she looks at Taylor as Alice. Turtle. has burst into blossoms. looks a little like the guardian saint. She implies that Taylor is a hero for risking her own safety. She misses Lou Ann. The cereus. Virgie Parsons invites Lou Ann. In the car. but she forgets the greatest risk: that Taylor could be caught transporting illegal immigrants. Because she is so nervous. where Taylor stayed with Turtle. Taylor marvels at the number of languages they speak. who wrote Kentucky’s state song. but she feels a little hurt. a lake in the Ozarks. the group arrives in Oklahoma. and they decide to go. Esperanza. as she does later when Turtle begins calling Esperanza “Ma. Taylor. used to. The night before Taylor leaves. Esperanza amuses Turtle in the backseat. When Taylor locates the bar where the Indian woman gave Turtle to her. Taylor begins to feel like she has come a long way for no reason. It seems like a good omen. The owner. Taylor overhears Esperanza call Turtle Ismene. She asks Esperanza and Estevan if they’d like to go to the Lake o’ the Cherokees. on the other hand.night. The plant’s flowers float above the women’s heads and smell wonderful. Taylor feels she owes her great grandfather an apology for misjudging the Cherokee Nation. Taylor hesitates when the officer asks who Turtle’s parents are. for a vacation. Although Taylor offers to take Estevan and Esperanza to their new home right away. Mattie reassures Taylor but seems nervous. which is filled with beautiful lakes. Chapters Fourteen : Guardian Saints Taylor. and Estevan leave from Mattie’s. They must pass through a routine Immigration check in New Mexico. Christopher is the guardian saint of refugees. The wise and practical Mattie. Christopher medallion around her neck. Taylor agrees with him that this tactic was best. Estevan indicates that Turtle belongs to him and his wife. singing to her while Estevan and Taylor talk in the front seat. and Turtle drive east toward Oklahoma. they want to stay with Taylor while she looks for Turtle’s relatives. 16 . Estevan. Once on the road. they pass a dead blackbird. realizes that Taylor has agreed to place herself in great danger. and the current owners know nothing of Turtle’s relatives. the girl working there tells Taylor that the Cherokee nation is not barren at all. which blooms just once a year. and the children over to their porch to see the cereus. Taylor.” Estevan tells Taylor that he and Esperanza are not Guatemalan but Mayan. Mrs. she finds that it has changed hands. and that their real names are Indian. Frustrated in her attempt to find Turtle’s relatives. Lou Ann worries that Turtle’s relatives might want her back or that Taylor might not be able to find them. she says most of it exists in the Ozark Mountains. St. Hoge. The group eats lunch at the bar and before they leave. has died. and only at night. Finally. Taylor’s mother.
17 . begins to feel like the odd one out. and they agree. dolls do not. She tells him she will miss him. However. who seem relaxed in this place where everyone looks like them. the group has a picnic lunch. Taylor notes something in Esperanza “thawing”. Taylor. where Estevan picks flowers for Esperanza and Taylor. the only white person in the group.” Afterward. When Turtle looks at the pile of dirt and says “Mama. Estevan and Esperanza pose as Steve and Hope and say they are Turtle’s biological parents. Estevan and Taylor rent a boat and go out on the lake. She tells Turtle she will try her best to keep Turtle forever.” Taylor makes two wishes. He does not say he will miss her. when they have a home. which Estevan calls “appropriate for American wishes. Esperanza says they love their daughter but cannot care for her. and asks Estevan and Esperanza to confirm they can give up their child. Taylor gets worried when Turtle looks out the window and shouts “Mama.Chapters Fifteen : Lake o’ the Cherokees As the group drives to the lake in the Cherokee Nation. Taylor realizes that if Esperanza said she wanted to keep Turtle. Taylor. Mr. Watching Esperanza hold Turtle. The implication is that Taylor wishes to keep Estevan and Turtle.” Taylor understands that Taylor is remembering her biological mother’s burial and reenacting it with her doll. At the end of the chapter. Estevan suggests that they make a wish. and Turtle go to the office of Mr. and Taylor realizes that she is not acting. In the afternoon. At the lake the group finds a cottage to stay in for a night. Armistead. She says that someday. Taylor cries. Instead of coins. Taylor poses as Turtle’s adoptive mother. only one of which she can hope for. they throw beer pop-tops into the lake. Esperanza. Esperanza begins to cry. Chapters Sixteen : Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will Estevan. On the way to the lake. Estevan and Esperanza sign a document stating that they agree to the change in custody and that they sign in “soundness of mind and freedom of will. Turtle seems to understand. and Taylor realizes they are treading on dangerous ground. Christopher medallion to Turtle and tells Taylor she knows Turtle will grow up happy. Taylor begins to explain to her that while seeds grow. Esperanza seems happy for the first time. Jonas Wilford Armistead. explains the permanence of the adoption. Thinking of Estevan’s imminent departure. She notices marked changes in Estevan and Esperanza. Turtle buries her doll underneath a tree. Back at the shore. although she can only truly hope to keep the girl. She tells Turtle it is terrible to lose your mother and asks Turtle if she knows her mother is gone forever. they might have more children. They spend the afternoon next to a stream. Esperanza gives her St.” There is no woman in sight. Taylor asks Esperanza and Estevan if they will do her a favor. Esperanza’s face seems newly happy. just a gas station and a cemetery. who assumes they are telling the truth. Taylor could not deny her. Taylor is happy to find she was wrong to assume that the Cherokee Nation is desolate—the place of her head rights is actually lush and mountainous.
She says that she does not plan to move in with this man. a number she imagined calling if she ever hit rock bottom. but amused.” After leaving Estevan and Esperanza. She tells Taylor that she has quit her job cleaning houses. the number turns out to be a pledge line. and calls Lou Ann. Taylor and Turtle leave Oklahoma City. because she feels like Taylor and Turtle are her family. When she asks if it will be safe to write.” Taylor explains that although Turtle has many friends. Dwayne Ray. Taylor tells Lou Ann that she has adopted Turtle. and Taylor tells her about Turtle’s official adoption. She nervously asks Lou Ann if she plans to go back to Angel. she now has only one Ma in the world.” Along with vegetable names. Turtle sees a picture of wisteria and recognizes it as bean trees. Alice comforts her.Chapters Seventeen : Rhizobia Taylor takes Estevan and Esperanza to the church where the reverend and his wife will provide them with shelter. Taylor decides to call 1-800-THE-LORD . to Lou Ann’s great relief. When Turtle says she would like to see “Ma WooAhn. Taylor must say goodbye to Estevan. and she tells the woman who answers that the number has been a “fountain of faith” for her. and Taylor muses.” 18 . Finally. When she calls. Taylor and Turtle have their “second real conversation” (the first concerned Turtle’s burial of her doll). and Taylor. just as people have people helping them. Taylor calls her mother from a pay phone and tells her she lost her love. Taylor takes Turtle to the courthouse to pick up the adoption papers. He kisses her before he goes into the house. Turtle adds the names of her friends—Lou Ann. On a whim. Taylor explains that the bugs are like an underground railroad helping the plant. a former Rastafarian with a dog named Mr. She tells Turtle her name is now April Turtle Greer. Lou Ann tells Taylor about a new man she is dating. “the main ingredient. just as her mother imagined cashing in their head rights in the Cherokee Nation. and Lou Ann emphatically says no. he tells her he can only send messages through Mattie. Taylor is not disappointed. T. She tells him she has never before lost anyone she loves. which grow with the help of rhizobia. heading back to Tucson. Taylor reads out loud about wisteria vines. Mattie. Esperanza. where they look at horticulture reference books. “All four of us had buried someone we loved in Oklahoma. She and Turtle go to a library. Turtle sings what Taylor calls her “vegetable-soup song. microscopic bugs that suck nitrogen from the soil to help the plant.
Turtle . gutsy woman. Turtle has already been physically and sexually abused.The owner of Jesus Is Lord Used Tires and a mother figure for Taylor. fearing for the safety of herself and her baby. Turtle’s presence touches her because Turtle reminds her of the daughter she had to leave behind. he worked as an English teacher in Guatemala before he and his wife fled to the United States. whose first word is bean and who loves all kinds of vegetables.Lou Ann’s husband. Taylor also narrates much of the story. and his kind ways inspire romantic feelings in Taylor. she is nonetheless a survivor. More sensitive and more provincial than Taylor. and her voice is both sassy and kind.Estevan’s wife. He enlightens Taylor about the corruption of Central American governments. Esperanza . she is proud of her Cherokee blood. Angel Ruiz . Although Taylor has spent her life avoiding pregnancy. She is so quiet and unengaged that many believe her to be dumb or retarded. has just walked out on her when the story begins. Mattie . He speaks beautiful English.The child given to Taylor in the middle of the Cherokee nation. Like her mother. This silence. Angel. Dwayne Ray. 19 .Characters Character List Taylor Greer . Estevan . She worries about the terrible accidents and horror stories she hears about. She allows illegal immigrants to stay in her home. She is wise and kind.A Kentuckian woman who settled in Tucson with her baby. Born and raised in rural Kentucky. operating a kind of sanctuary.A Guatemalan refugee. She represents both the horror of political corruption and the desperation that can necessitate the abandonment of children. he is a Mexican man whom Lou Ann met when he worked in the rodeo in Kentucky.Estevan and Esperanza’s daughter.The protagonist of the novel. She is a strong. however. she keeps Turtle with her. Lou Ann Ruiz . Her grave demeanor is a reflection of her sorrowful past. Her garden of beautiful vegetables and car parts is an inspiration for Turtle. Angel’s prosthetic leg—the result of a pickup truck accident—wounds his pride terribly and makes him unhappy. He lives in Mattie’s building with his wife. She gets her name from her clinginess. Ismene . whom they left in Guatemala. Her husband. she leaves to escape a small life in her hometown. is due to Turtle’s history: although she is only three years old. which reminds Taylor of the mud turtles in Kentucky. Esperanza. and Taylor and Turtle move in with her.
Her mother brought the original bean seeds from China.The social worker who comes over after Turtle’s run-in with a miscreant in the park. kind mother.The blind woman who lives with Mrs. 20 . Edna Poppy . she is the only part of Taylor’s hometown that Taylor misses when she leaves.Lou Ann’s grumpy neighbor. Cynthia . he treats Esperanza and Estevan like ignorant foreigners.The mother and daughter. Lee-Sing . who sometimes baby-sits for the children. She is much warmer than her roommate. She fights perpetually with Granny Logan. she is provincial and has no interest in seeing Arizona. He represents what could have been Taylor’s fate had she not had a wonderful mother and the determination to leave town.Lou Ann’s son. Her prim attitude annoys Taylor. He was born on New Year’s Day. Mr.Lou Ann’s mother. Newt Hardbine . respectively. She makes insensitive remarks about immigrants. Virgie Parsons . She is provincial and harbors many prejudices about Angel’s nationality. Like Granny Logan.Taylor’s mother. but her intentions are good. Dwayne Ray . She hates the arid climate in Tucson and brings Lou Ann water from the Tug Fork River in Kentucky so that she may baptize Dwayne Ray properly. In Chapter One. An encouraging. Mrs. He drops out before graduation to help his family on its farm and dies before Taylor leaves Pittman County. An old white man. Father William . transporting illegal immigrants to and from her house.A classmate of Taylor’s. Jonas Wilford Armistead .The legal authority in Oklahoma City who oversees Turtle’s adoption.Lou Ann’s grandmother.Alice Greer .The priest who works with Mattie.The woman who owns the grocery store and Laundromat next door to Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. Ivy . Taylor says that her mother expects the best from her daughter and thinks that whatever Taylor does is wonderful. Granny Logan . Hoge and Irene . who run the Broken Arrow Motor Lodge. the descendents of which now grow in Mattie’s yard. where they let Turtle and Taylor stay free of charge on their trip west. her mother-in-law. Parsons. who lives in Kentucky. Mrs.
Kingsolver also breaks down the us-versus-them rhetoric that often surrounds immigration issues by likening Taylor to Esperanza and Estevan. Lou Ann stops disregarding her appearance. When she sees Esperanza’s tearful catharsis. Esperanza’s loyalty to Taylor is equally strong. for although Turtle is one of the only things that gives Esperanza joy. and Taylor’s horror at their past life changes the way she sees the world. the once-invulnerable spirit. Mattie. While Estevan can speak perfect English. 21 . she says that the burden of being born a woman had already affected the little girl. The immigrants Estevan and Esperanza are depicted sympathetically. When Taylor first sees Turtle’s body. This comment immediately suggests that Kingsolver does not mean for us to think of Turtle as an individual but as representative of women in general. finds a job. but as ignorant or misguided. transports and protects illegal aliens. Kingsolver depicts those who denigrate immigrants not as evil. she finds that she is an outsider in the Cherokee nation. Although her remarks seem insensitive to Taylor. Women suffer because they are women. Taylor not only describes herself as an alien in Tucson. but instead as one who has latched on to a political ideology without considering its moral implications. The women in this community strengthen one another. Taylor. Virgie is not depicted as an evil person. Esperanza does not ask Taylor to give up Turtle. Virgie Parsons’s views represent politically conservative ideas about immigration and nationalism. Second.Themes The Shared Burden of Womanhood The topic of gender is explored in two general ways in the novel. The women are remarkably loyal to one another. where Esperanza and Estevan feel at home. unable to express her grief fluently. and the strip joint with its lewd paintings offends her. The Plight of Illegal Immigrants Kingsolver makes it clear that she sympathizes with the plight of illegal immigrants. First. Once she begins to share her life with Taylor. Taylor would give Turtle to her. one of the most beloved characters in the novel. the novel portrays gender inequality as a societal phenomenon instead of as a series of individual grievances. all of whom face difficulties because of their gender. Esperanza seems to have had fewer educational and occupational opportunities in Guatemala that her husband did. and forgets her irresponsible husband. she is isolated in her depression. finds the energy to fight for Turtle only after weeks of Lou Ann’s prodding and a long talk with Mattie. She levels the hierarchy that values an American citizen over a Guatemalan immigrant by depicting Taylor and the married couple as refugees. Taylor lives in a small community of women who for the most part live their lives independently of men. Men touch and prod Lou Ann when she takes the bus. the novel shows the success of a nearly exclusively female world. Taylor realizes that if Esperanza asked for Turtle.
and Mattie reenact the celebration of the first rainfall. but by focusing on the beauty of the land.Respect for the Environment The novel expresses a concern for the environment not by focusing on the potential destruction of the environment. the way that Turtle and other displaced people are symbolized by birds makes a statement about the vulnerability that Native people share with nature: both birds and displaced people will be hunted down if they cannot find a sanctuary. 22 . Taylor loved to climb trees. Finally. Estevan. Esperanza. The novel also suggests that Native American heritage and respect for the environment go hand in hand. Chapter Twelve dramatizes the intimate relationship between the land and indigenous peoples when Taylor. Taylor’s sudden need to see Lake o’ the Cherokees has to do with her Cherokee blood. we learn that as a child. behavior her mother ascribed to Taylor’s Cherokee inclination get high up in a tree to find God. and Turtle has a natural love for the earth.
Had I not had a Maggie running around. I would like to be like her. Taylor eschews glamor in favor of down-to-earth practicality. I loved the the characters in this book. Taylor Greer is smart-mouthed and tough. I think one of my litmus tests is does a character seem real enough and likable enough that I start feeling like he/she is a friend and I want to follow him/her to see what happens? If the answer is yes. Besides that . The flows of the story are really amazing and interesting . Then there's Turtle.Reflection I like The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver because I loved the stories in the book . \ 23 . who is so smart. I wouldn't have thought a three-year-old as smart as Turtle could have existed. I just ached for her — she was so resilient. the book always winds up a favorite.
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