The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingfisher

Literary Analysis In The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingfisher there are many different relationships between characters. Some are more important to the story, like the relationship that Taylor and Turtle share. Other characters that develop relationships are Taylor and Lou Ann, and Taylor and her mother, Alice. All of these relationships are also very symbiotic because the people rely on each other, without each other they would have much different lives. The author shows how Taylor grows through her relationships and the dependence they have on one another.
Another important relationship that we see in The Bean Trees is the relationship between Taylor and her mother, Alice. Alice Is a single mother who raises Taylor on her own until Taylor Is old enough to move out of town. I believe that her mother serves as a role model for all of the other future women throughout the book. She raised Taylor as a confident young woman who would not be held back. Tailor’s father, Foster, left her and her mother before she was born, but Alice still has a very positive outlook on life.
She tells her daughter that “trading Foster for you was the best deal this side of the Jackson Purchase” (6). She shows Taylor that she does not need her father, Foster, to love life because she has her. Love and support is found in this relationship especially from Alice to Taylor. Taylor says, “There were two things about Mama. One is she always expected the best out of me. And the other is that no matter what I did, whatever I came home with, she acted like it was the moon I had just hung up in the sky and plugged in all the stars” (13).

Alice really motivated Taylor as her mother to go far In life and would praise her to let her know she is doing well. Since they had this strong mother and daughter relationship, Taylor has the courage o leave Pitman to escape motherhood and become the best person she could be, for her mother and herself. Taylor Greer, the main character, left her home in Kentucky to avoid becoming pregnant and being a young mother like every other girl. This seems ironic because as soon as she leaves, she is given a baby from an Indian lady.
She names the baby girl Turtle. Besides the relationship that Taylor had with her mother, she never had anyone depend on her. The relationship between Taylor and Turtle is the first example of dependence in the story. I believe that Turtle was given to Taylor to present the importance in relationships because the baby is fully depending on Taylor to take care of her. Also, I think there was a reason that she names the baby Turtle. Taylor says you’re like a mud turtle. If a mud turtle bites you, it won’t let go till it thunders” (22).
This quote Is showing that Turtle does not let go of Taylor easily and this also shows that the relationship between them Is growing stronger. Turtle trusts her and Is starting to look at her Like a mother figure. When Taylor got to a motel with the baby she wrote to her mother, “l found my rights, Mama. They’re coming with he may not be able to be the best provider. She sees Turtle as a “right” or something that she now has ownership of. When Taylor moves to Tucson she meets and moves in with Lou Ann, a single mother, who now Taylor depends on.
They end up helping each other along with life and act like one family with their children. In the beginning, Taylor acted as if she did not want them to act like family, “Lou Ann, I moved in here because I knew we’d get along. It’s nice of you to make dinner for us all, and to take care of Turtle sometimes, and I know you mean well it’s not like we’re a family, for Chrism’s sake. You’ve got your own life to live, and Vive got mine. You don’t have to do all of this stuff for me” (85).
This shows that Taylor might feel uneasy to depend on somebody else at the time, even though she knew she needed help. When she starts to realize this, she thinks, “We had worked things out: I cooked on weekends, and also on any week night that Lou Ann had kept Turtle she would do the vacuuming” (107). Taylor says move got your own life to live and Vive got mine” meaning they are not going to get involved with each other’s lives. In the second quote, it shows that they are beginning o work together on living and would make each other dinner or help clean.
Lou Ann would also have Turtle for the night while Taylor rested. As much as she did not want to admit it, Tailor’s relationship grew with Lou Ann and she became much more dependent on her. The relationships in the book between Taylor and Turtle, Lou Ann and Taylor, and Taylor and her mother are all significant to show that dependence is a major theme in The Bean Trees. Barbara Kingfisher uses relationships to show dependence in order to say to the world that you cannot get through life without guidance or having someone’s shoulder to lean on.

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