Friday, March 21, 2008

The Bean Trees

The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver, was not the kind of book I was expecting to analyse. In school, usually our books have symbolism and themes that we are supposed to interpret. Looking further into it, The Bean Trees does have this. It's just hidden by the author's style. Mrs. Kingsolver has a unique style.

First off, the novel is written from the voice of a young, "modern" (it was written in the 80's), Southern girl. She is leaving her home in Kentucky to just get away. While in Oklahoma, an Indian girl sets a baby in her car. The child, who she names Turtle, is silent and shy. Taylor discovers she has been abused, and the novel goes on to describe how they find a home, friends, and new life in Arizona, and how both Turtle and Taylor begin to thrive.

Our group decided that one of the most important themes of the book was that of belonging. Each part of the novel, no matter how random, becomes relevant and is wrapped up together by the end. It deals with issues of teen pregnancy, illegal immigration, and motherhood. I found the last to be the most interesting. Taylor's main motive for leaving her hometown was that she didn't want to become pregnant like the rest of the girls in her town, and therefore has a cynical view of being a mother. However, as she comes to love Turtle, you see her values change. It's an interesting observation.

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