Seeking Solace in Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees

Seeking Solace in Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees

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Seeking Solace in The Bean Trees


Many aspects of life are explored in Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Bean Trees. A young woman named Marietta Greer from Kentucky wanted to strike out on her own, leaving behind everything she ever knew, just to start a new life. Many children want to do this at an early age so they can experience life on their own yet they don't realize the dangers involved.. Everyone that leaves the solace of their own home needs loving support to keep them going through life.


Marietta Greer starts her journey by heading west across the United States in a run-down old car. She decides at the start that wherever the car breaks down will become her new home. When she stops at a diner one night for something to eat, she is suddenly left with a baby dropped off by an elderly Indian woman with no reasons why. Marietta tells her "If I wanted a baby I would have stayed in Kentucky" (24). Continuing her lonely trek, she changes her name to Taylor and ends up keeping the child and caring for her. When she finally arrives at her unknown destination, Taylor gets a job at a tire company working for a nice lady named Mattie and moves in with Lou Ann, also a single mother. She develops close friendships with them, and they all help each other through good times and bad. Taylor starts getting stronger feelings for the child, Turtle, and eventually adopts her through deceiving means with her new friends Estevan and Esperanza. Taylor keeps in touch with her mother, and she was thrilled her mother was supportive of her decision to adopt Turtle.


There are some things I would have changed about the novel to make it more interesting reading and to broaden the type of audience it addresses. In my opinion, the book was kind of targeted at a feminine audience, especially single mothers. When Taylor and Lou Ann get together, Lou Ann sounds kind of pathetic saying " Who in the world would want to move in here with us" (102), yet they develop a strong friendship regardless. I had kind of a hard time focusing on what was going on and who was doing what mainly because the story wasn't interesting enough to attract my attention. Perhaps by throwing in a little more suspense or more action, the novel would have been more fun to read.

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It was written a little too much like a biography of someone's life, and the characters were not described in enough detail to give me an actual picture of what people looked like and what was going on. In general, the book needs to be more interesting to read and appeal to different groups of people.


I enjoyed this novel from just a plain reader's point of view. The story flowed together naturally, and it was easy to read. The use of characters was excellent, and each person in the story had a specific reason for being mentioned. The story also creates an in-depth realization of the troubles a lot of single mothers go through, "If anything Lou Ann, you're just too good of a mother" (210) and how they are able to stay strong and resolve problems that come up in everyday life. The author relays a lot of real life situations people go through everyday and gives possible suggestions through a piece of fiction for people in the world to solve their problems.


I would recommend this book to anyone that likes stories about people striking out on their own and facing challenges in the world. The novel relayed specific details about Taylor's background, "I was not the smartest or even particularly outstanding, but I was there and staying out of trouble and I intended to finish" (3), and foreshadowed the types of challenges that she wouldn't be able to handle. The book is very descriptive in each scene making the story line flow and easy to read. A lot of people could easily identify with the problems that Taylor occasionally ran into, especially single mothers who are trying to live on their own without having anyone to depend on. I also think that women in particular would enjoy this book.


Works Cited

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Bean Trees. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988.

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