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In Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Bean Trees” the main theme of the story lies within the role female characters, yet emphasis of the story is on the female characters, but the male characters have the same type of conflicts as the females throughout the story. Kingsolver’s style of writing raises problems that modern people can relate to: “In her stories Kingsolver addresses conventional relationships in contemporary situations: single mothers juggling responsibility… married couples considering parenthood… estranged lovers or families trying to bridge gaps they do not understand” (Hirabayashi). Both males and females deal with themes such as natural growth, symbiotic relationships, and importance of identity. These themes may be shown from different perspectives since each character has different values, but all conflicts will somehow be resolved.
Character development is symbolized by the natural growth of the Wisteria Plant. Turtle strongly relates to the plant because of her barren beginning, but in the end she grew into something beautiful (Ross). Taylor also comes from a low class family with a crude beginning. She was called a “nutter” in high school just because she had to work to earn her school clothes. Even though Taylor started out rough she is now flourishing in Tucson. She has several friends and a good job. Taylor also has gone through a bildungsroman and developed into a woman instead of the child she once was. The male character that has undergone the same type of development as Turtle and Taylor is Estevan. He was once in Guatemala where the government suppressed him. He then moved into the United States under the protection of Mattie and he is now developing a more satisfying life. He has a job as a dishwasher, but will someday be a schoolteacher. Estevan also has a loving wife and friends that care for him. As a male character in the book, he has undergone the same situations as Taylor and Turtle.
The theme that is brought up several times throughout the novel is that of a symbiotic relationship. The Wisteria plant that lives in the arid park has an ideal relationship with the rhizobia bacteria.
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