Most authors convey an important message or idea throughout their noevls to give a greater understanding to their readers. In Barbara Kingsolvers novel, ‘The Bean Trees’, a strong idea that was developed was the possiublity of new beginnings. ‘The Bean Trees’ is the story of the protagonist Taylor Greer, who starts off on a journey from her home town of Kentucky to Arizona. Along the way she she is given an abandoned child which is the start to her learning about motherhood, becoming a women, the power of friendships and also learns to be capable.
The idea of new beginnings is the ability for characters to start over and leave their past behind them. It was mainly developed through Taylor, Turtle, and also a Guatamalan couple Estevan and Esperanza. The first person who helped develop this idea is Taylor. At the beginning of the story Taylor was called Marietta before she decided that she wanted to have a clean break because she had never been crazy about the names which she had been called previously.
I didn’t have any special name in mind, but just wanted a change’ this fitted into the theme of new beginnings because she was capable of leaving behind her old life and things that surrounded her name and had the opportunity to have the chance to create a new destiny for herself. As well as giving herself another chance to start her life and live it the way that she wanted through the changing of her name she also left her home town, house, friends, and mother all in search of somewhere new to live her life. She used chance to decide where she was going to stop with the use of her car.
Wherever it ran out of fuel or something happened to it, she would stop there. With the ambition of leaving her old Kentucky life behind her, she started a journey which led her to Oklahoma. this just happened to be the place where she was given an abandoned child. This was another new beginning for Taylor. ‘Can you talk?… What am I supposed to do with you tonight?… What do you eat?… ‘ This series of questions that Taylor asked the abandoned child showed that she had absolutely no idea what she was doing and still had to learn the first steps of becoming a mother.
It was a new beginning for her to take on responsibility for someone else. She had to grow, learn and understand in order to take care of the child that she had suddenly gained to take on her journey. She may not have understood what to do or how to do it, or even truly wanted this new beginning, but all in all she was given the chance. Kingsolver suggests through the use of Taylor that often life presents us with unexpected occurances, but if grasped correctly can lead to a possible great change, and therefore future.
Through the use of Taylor as a character Kingsolver helps to show us that around the corner, in every situation, if something as small as a car journey, can lead to amazing opportunities to start afresh in our lives. Turtle is another character that helps develop Kingsolver’s idea of new beginnings. Turtle is an abandoned 3 year old Indian child, who was abused when she was younger. After her mother died she was left to an unexpected Taylor who was just someone passing through the town, but turned into the receiver of a child who she had no clue what to do with.
On later inspection of the child which she named Turtle she noticed that her body was covered in ‘bruises and worse’ as Taylor said. When Taylor realised that turtle was a girl she said ‘that fact already burdened her short life with a kind of misery that she could not imagine’. Through this you can picture just how horrible the life this young child must have had. However this was the end of her bad story and the beginning to a new one. Just like Taylor she is given a new name, but also a new mother, new friends, and a new chance.
With the opportunity Turtle is now able to grow. ‘Turtle had managed to get through her whole life without a book, I suppose, and then she had two of them bought for her in one day. ‘ This quote shows the beginning if Turtles chance of recovery. She was a 3 year old stuck in an 18 month old body. She was a child with a horrible past, but a chance to start over. The development of Turtle made you understand that the majority of people are at some point given the ability to have a new beginning, no matter how terrible their life was before hand.
Estevan and Esperanza are a Guatamalan couple who are also given the opportunity to have a new beginning and therefore helped develop the idea of new beginnings. Estevan and Esperanza are people who are illegally living in Tucson. Esperanza and Estevan live in Mattie’s sanctuary that she has set up for people like them. After becoming good friends with Taylor they decide that they need to move on from Tucson and constantly running from the law. With Taylor and Turtle they set off to go to a safe house in Oklahoma.
They were considered ‘illegals’ and needed to be taken out of the country. however there should not be people judged as legal or illegal. There is only a difference between people who are good or bad. Because of this they are taken to a safe house where they are unlikely to be taken away. Instead of focusing on the negative once at the church Estevan says ‘don’t think of us stuck here forever. Think of us back in Guatemala with our families’. His optimism in their new ability to have a clean break and go back to their home country showed the idea of new beginnings in a different light. It'[s not always physically being somewhere that gives people their new beginnings.
Sometimes it is just a chance that makes believing in what was, or what could be, possible again. This is how Estevan and Esperanza helped deleop new beginnings as an idea in the novel. In conclusion, everyone has a chance at a new beginning, whther big or small. Three different sets of characters showed this throughout the novel ‘The Bean Trees’. Taylor helped the idea become present in the story as well as develop in as not only the physical actions that allow the new beginning to happen, but also a state of mind.
Turtle developed the idea so that it showed the readers that just because someone’s life starts out badly, it doesn’t mean their opportunity to have a new beginning wont come along. Estevan and Esperanza developed the idea so that you realised sometimes all that you need is faith to have the chance at a new beginning. In the end new beginnings was an idea that many characters showed their their own stories and therefore developed into their own way of showing the idea and allowing readers to understand it.
Courtney from Study Moose
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