The Theme Of Uncertain Journey In The
Bean Trees Essay, Research Paper
Uncertain journeys are numerous in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees. Many characters in the novel put their current lives aside to go off in hopes of finding a better one. By embarking on these journeys, the plot lines begin and end with risk taking. Taylor’s move away from Pittman and her taking Turtle, Louann not going after her husband, and the many risks of Estevan and Esperanza, create conflicts which drive the plot of The Bean Trees.
While growing up Taylor knows that she has no desire to live the life of the average young girl from Pittman. She says, “Mama always said barefoot and pregnant was not my style.”(3) Taylor finally decided to take a risk, she left her home and everything that she had known since growing up and started her old ‘55 Volkswagen out on the road for a new life. While in Oklahoma, Taylor recieved an Indian child from a woman claiming that the child’s mom had died and that the baby girl had no one else. Taylor named the baby “Turtle” and headed out with her and risks that went with raising a baby. Finally settling in Arizona, Taylor had driven across the country with little money and taken a baby she knew nothing about. As if the risks weren’t enough already, the search for a job and a place to live were still ahead. Taylor finally found a room she loved, a room mate Louann, and, a job ironically in a local tire business.
Ever since she was a young girl Taylor had a fear of tires. She had once seen a man thrown on to the top of a billboard when his tractor tire exploded right in front of him. Taylor’s new job was as a tire repair person at Jesus is Lord Used Tires. While taking the risk of overcoming a life long fear, Taylor did her job well and without any problems. After Mattie, her boss, helped Taylor realize that if a regular car tire exploded on her, she would not be hurt, Taylor’s fear of exploding tires was gone.. While taking many risks, some large and some small, Taylor overcame fears, and improved her life.
Louann’s husband left her pregnant and without a job. She was forced to assume the risks of raising a child alone and finding a job. A few months later her husband sent her a letter and asked her to follow him on to the Colorado-Montana rodeo circut but Louann declined and took on a new job at the salsa factory. “It’s over between me and Angel. I know it is” says Louann (128). She didn’t know much about anything besides being a house wife; however she managed to fine herself a good job at a salsa factory and quickly (through her good work ethic) she reached the position of manager. While at the same time raising her son Dwayne, Louann showed incredible initiative and the courage to over come the risks of being left alone by her husband.
Estevan and Esperanza are two people who take more risks then anyone else. After losing their daughter in their home country Nicaragua, the couple escapes government persecution and comes to the United States. In the U.S.A., Estevan and Esperanza move from house to house through the underground railroad constantly being forced to elude the government. In one of their final moves across the country to Oklahoma, Estevan and Esperanza voluntarily present themselves to government officials as the parents of Taylor’s daughter Turtle, so the government would think that Taylor was adopting Turtle and therefore give Taylor legal custody. “We love her. Maybe someday we will have more children, but not now.” (214) This is Esperanza telling the government official that they can’t care for Turtle anymore. After saving their own lives by leaving Nicaragua, Estevan and Esperanza help save another, by lying about Turtle and therefore taking great unnecessary risks.
In all, it is risk taking that helps “The Bean Trees” characters find better lives and happy situations. The uncertain journeys make Taylor, Louann, Estevan, and Esperanza stronger people and helps firm up the bonds that they share with one another. Taylor taking Turtle and leaving Pittman, Louann embarking on parenthood alone, and Estevan and Esperanza’s immigration from Nicaragua, plus the false representation as Turtle’s biological parents by Estevan and Esperanza all display risk taking that make the uncertain journeys of “The Bean Trees” a special story.