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Free Study Guide-The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver-Free Book Notes
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Mattie, Taylor, Estevan and Esperanza ride off into the desert to experience the first rain of the summer. Taylor elaborately describes the sights, sounds, and smells that are coming alive. "There seemed to be no end to the things that could be hiding, waiting it out, right where you thought you could see it all." She also confesses to the reader her feelings for Estevan as they dance in the rain, thunder their music.

When Taylor gets home she finds a terrible situation. Turtle had been at the park with Edna Poppy and someone tried to kidnap or molest the child. Edna swung her cane and struck the person while Turtle clung to Ednaís skirt. As the events of the night are explained, a policeman and a social worker arrive. Taylor is distraught and overwhelmed. She excuses herself and joins Virgie Parsons who is chasing a sparrow that has gotten into the house. Taylor notes the frightened heartbeat of the bird and uses a broom to gently usher the bird out the screen door to freedom, but Into the Terrible Night.

There is no evidence that Turtle has been molested. She is scared and bruised and Taylor fears that her child, who is finally developing a vocabulary, will not speak again. The incident leaves Taylor feeling hopeless and empty. She bemoans the ugliness around her, abused children, the homeless, refugees, and ignores Lou Annís efforts of support.


This chapter brings the reader feelings of sensual joy, then hopeless despair. Taylorís observation in the desert about how life can hide from you parallels the theme of apparently empty places being surprising resources for the beauty of life. Kingsolverís use of similes and extended metaphors here draws the reader completely into the splendor of the changing seasons in the desert.

As in Chapter 8, the appearance of a bird symbolizes Turtle. She is terrified by the events of the night, coaxed to safety, but has no guarantees about what the future holds. As a result of the events of the day, Taylor sheds her idealism and naiveté as she realizes that her true desires, the love of Estevan and the safety and well being of Turtle, are not within her reach.

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Free Study Guide-The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver-Free Chapter Summary


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