Bean Trees Essay, Research Paper
The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver, is the story of Taylor Greer and her struggle to find a place to belong. Like Kingsolver, Taylor began her journey in Kentucky and ended in
Tucson, Arizona. As a result of writing The Bean Trees, Kingsolver has been praised by many critics. The San Francisco Chronicle called the writing in The Bean Trees, ” so wry and
wise we wish it would never end “. I could not wait for this book to end. Though the novel is well written, the content was done in bad taste. Many factors have led to my disapproval of
this novel. For now I will only discuss a few of these factors: an unnecessarily long beginning, the portrayal of Taylor Greer as a heroin, and randomly placed offensive material.
From the beginning I was disappointed with this novel. Kingsolver chose to begin the novel from Taylor’s point of view in Kentucky, but when the reader reaches chapter two, the book
switches to Lou Ann’s point of view in Arizona. This tradeoff continues until the end of chapter five when these two characters finally meet and decide to live together. By this time I had
no idea what to expect next from this story. Some may enjoy this type of delay before the story truly begins, but I am not one those people. If it were not required of me to read this book, I
would have given up reading it by chapter three. My patience was worn thin by this technique. I was driven to boredom. I lacked an understanding concerning what the writer was trying
to accomplish. I am still unaware of her reasoning. Kingsolver could have introduced Lou Ann’s character in less detail. She is not the main character. There is no need for extra
background information on a supporting character like LouAnn. By adding extra chapters for detailed character exploration Kingsolver takes away the suspense and intrigue and leaves the
reader confused and bored. Kingsolver would have shown better taste in writing by shortening the initial character exposition from five chapters to a more reasonable and less confusing
two and a half chapters.
Another example of Kingsolver’s lack of taste in her writing is shown through her portrayal of Taylor as a heroin. In the beginning the odds seem to be stacked against Taylor Greer
character. The fact that she finished High school and did so without getting pregnant is triumphant. Kingsolver’s writing leads to believe Taylor is the first and only one to accomplish this
feat. This could not be further from the truth. She overcame many obstacles and managed to avoid seemingly predestined events in her life, but she is not the first or last to do so. There is
no need to praise and admire her through writing. The heroin theme is reiterated when Taylor takes in Turtle; a young abused Indian girl abandoned by her family. In my opinion, the truly
heroic act would have been to find Turtle a more suitable family in which she could receive what Taylor could not provide. She chose to deny this child of a better chance at life, just to
fulfill her selfish need for companionship. By the end of the novel, Taylor has accepted what has become of her life and she does not show any desire for a better life for herself or for her
newly adopted daughter. Perhaps it is due to her upbringing and the environment in which she grew up that eventually led to her giving in to the hand dealt to her. Taylor should constantly
be striving for something better, any type of improvement. Her acceptance shows she is giving in, giving up, choosing to slowly lose what she worked so hard to gain. Taylor’s story is told
with cockiness about her situation, where I would expect humility.
Kingsolver’s cockiness in her writing was also shown through her lack of taste. As I was reading this novel, I came across randomly placed offensive material. All of these excerpts
could have just as easily been left out. None of these were essential to the story line or plot. The first example came as Kingsolver wrote about Taylor’s teenage years, she states: “I knew
what a pecker looked like and none of these sights had so far inspired me to get hogtied to a future as a tobacco farmer’s wife (p.4).” Some of these crude references were implied, while
others were more direct and to the point. For example, Lou Ann speaks of her husband Angel’s leg amputation and how it reminded her of a “penis” because it had ” a smooth defenseless
look to it.” An implied example of crudeness is when Taylor is reminded of a dream about Estevan (a married man) and she feels ” a flush crawling up (her) neck and (she) was glad for
the dusk.” These things may have affected me more than the next reader, but they still show yet another example Kingsolver’s lack of good taste in her writing.
Through her novel, The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver exhibits quality writing along with poor taste. Many critics have praised her work, but I cannot agree with any of them. Her
lack of quality writing in this novel is shown through her wrongful portrayal of the main character, Taylor Greer, as a heroin, the randomly placed offensive material in the text, and her
decision to spend the first five chapters confusing and boring her readers. I found this book to be a waste of my time. I did not enjoy reading it and feel that I have gained nothing but
useless information from this experience. I would strongly recommend The Bean Trees be used as an example of good writing gone terribly wrong.