The Bean Trees

The Bean Trees

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There were many sacrificial elements that existed in The Bean Trees. Sacrifices that the characters in the novel made for the benefit of others or themselves. These sacrifices played a role almost as significant as some of the characters in the book. Some prime examples of these sacrifices are Mattie’s will to offer sanction to illegal immigrants, the fact that Taylor sacrificed the whole success of her excursion by taking along an unwanted, abused Native-American infant, and Estevan and Esperanza’s decision to leave behind their daughter for the lives of seventeen other teacher union members.

Mattie sacrifices her business, her reputation, and her life to help out illegal aliens that are running, for one reason or another, from their original country. Most of these aliens are searching for a better life in America. Mattie assists them by providing them with housing, food, and medical attention whenever needed. She knows the consequences involved, and yet she perseveringly volunteers to give these people sanction. "There was another whole set of people who spoke Spanish and lived with her for various lengths of

time. I asked her about them once, and she asked me something like had I ever heard of a sanctuary."(Kingsolver 105) It’s amazing how Mattie’s morals and beliefs make her sacrifice her everyday life for the benefit of people whom she had never met before.

Taylor Greer had been running away from premature pregnancy her entire life. Afraid that she would wind up just another hick in Pittman County, she left town and searched for a new life out West. On her way getting there, she acquires Turtle, an abandoned three-year-old Native American girl. Taylor knows that keeping Turtle is a major responsibility, being that she was abandoned and abused. Yet, Taylor knows that she is the best option that Turtle has, as far as parental figures go. "Then you are not the parent or guardian?’…. ‘Look,’ I said. ‘I’m not her real mother, but I’m taking care of her now. She’s not with her original family anymore." (Kingsolver 162) As the story progresses, Taylor accepts Turtle as part of life. This sacrifice later turns into a blessing.

Estevan and Esperanza’s sacrifice involved a major part of their lives. Both Estevan and Esperanza sacrificed their daughter for the lives of seventeen other people. Back in Guatemala, they were part of an secret underground teachers union where important information was passed by word of mouth.

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Both Estevan and Esperanza knew the names of twenty other members, which is why they were valued more alive than dead. In order to catch Estevan and Esperanza the military took away Ismene, their daughter. &quot;Can you understand that this made us more useful alive than dead? For us to go after Ismene is what they wanted.&quot; (Kingsolver 184) They had to sacrifice Ismene for the sake of all those other people.


The sacrificial elements that exist in The Bean Trees are an important part in the story. They added depth in the story and to the characters on an individual level.
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