Vijay Sherigar wrote in his poem Journey that, “From where I started to where I am today. The journey has been long & tiring from nothing to something I am today. It’s not been an easy journey.” The journey and its paths that we travel are in both the poem My Rebirth and the book The Bean Tree and all three poem, book and journey lead to the rebirth of something bigger, better, brighter and most importantly new. A thematic similarity of renewal through pain, love, time and life’s journey, is found in both the poem My Rebirth and in the story The Bean Trees. Though fears can hold one back, patience, accompanied with a little love can help to overcome those worries, even those from the worst past imaginable, and can also lead to the road of finding oneself. The poem begins and later closes in stating that, “Where there were once tears of sorrow, they are no more. Body and soul, I seek potency within….I must not be afraid, where there is fear, comfort will come, patience is the key….Have faith, I know I am loved, I am free, this is me, this is the story of my rebirth.
“Just as in the poem elegiacally puts, it takes time to heal, to overcome fears, to dry the tears of pain away and go on with life. Turtle takes her time to, for lack of a better phrase, come out of her shell, no pun intended. She was abused in many different ways, resulting in her fear, and seemingly lack of emotion or “personality”, as Lee Ann so kindly puts it. Slowly, as she is showed love, gentleness and patience, and given time, she begins to develop a character. She holds on literally to anything stable she can find, or grip that is, and metaphorically holds steadfast to her fears and meekness. At first, she found it necessary to retract and almost be robotic or nonexistent, but as she is exposed to something in all sense of the word, though not blood linked, a loving, nurturing, family, slowly she lets go of her fear and begins to talk, play, learn, and even remember her past, and she is able to do so because of her knowledge that she is loved, free of her former horrors. Taylor finally decides to take Turtle, on account of her abusive history, to the physician.
In this visit, the doctor concludes that Turtle ceased growing as an outcome from her previous “environment of physical or emotional deprivation”. The condition is known as “failure to thrive” and though it is appalling that such a past was forced on such a small and innocent little girl the silver lining of the situation is the condition is reversible (p. 166). Turtle did just as the condition describes and failed to bloom, almost to the point of failing to exist, making herself near to invisible. But as time and love worked its magic, Turtle, realizing she is not alone anymore, slowly begins to reverse her condition. She faces her fears and begins to start again. Though not free from all terrors she is given the chance to flourish and she grasps the opportunity, with just as firm a hold as her literal grip.
She finds restoration in the opportunities that patience and love have handed to her. Later on as Turtle buries her doll, Shirley Poppy, Taylor begins to explain to her that while seeds grow, dolls, on the other hand, do not. But, when Turtle pats the pile of dirt and says “Mama,” Taylor feels the need to ask her, “Did you see your Mama get buried that way?”(p. 281). After Turtle acknowledges that she did indeed see her mother buried, Taylor consoles her, later telling her, “You already know there’s no such thing as promises. But I’ll try as hard as I can to stay with you.”(p. 282).As Turtles grows, she able to remember more of her past and as she becomes more courageous, she begins to confront that horrific past. As she gains strength, she is able to give that same quality; thus through Turtles maturing and prospering, Taylor is given the strength and reason to face her fears, in her case, tires, motherhood and depending on others.
With a little time, patience and love Turtle is able to “have faith”, because she knows of that love for her and is therefore able to be renewed or freed, beginning to find herself in the process. Just as the poem states, even “tears of sorrow” and fears from the past, can be overcome with love and the knowledge of that love along with perseverance and endurance. Comfort can follow the fears that remain and sometimes eventually drive them away, leaving faith, love and freedom behind. Through the time, chances, and hopes that tribulations offer, a certain peace and happiness can be obtained and sometimes allow troubles to be let go of. The poem ends explaining the journey and prospects ahead in saying, “Behind the door lies a pool, if I trust, than will I bathe in its waters. I leave behind all misfortunes, I shall be reborn. Breathe again, all is forgiven, I appreciate this second chance. Time is what I have.
“Just as in the poem, time and leaving behind all burdens has given a second chance, the same chances are offered to Esperanza and Estevan. Through their misfortunes, such as losing their daughter and being forced to flee from their country, they are offered opportunities in the United States, the “pool”; sneaking across the border, they find refuge in Mattie’s “sanctuary”, the “waters.” They trusted the doors opened for them by their plights and left behind many worries, allowing them to “breathe again” and giving them more “time”, though still not freeing them of all troubles. Estevan talks about torture methods used in Guatemala. He also tells Taylor how he and Esperanza had a daughter, Ismene, “she was taken in a raid on their neighborhood” in Guatemala (p. 183).
Estevan and Esperanza’s attachment to the teacher’s union caused them to be a threat to the government, but because they “knew the names of twenty other union members” and because they wanted the names of those people, the government kept them alive for their valued information and took Ismene to lure Esperanza and Estevan into offering up the names (p. 183). But they chose saving the other union members’ lives instead of redeeming their daughter; they then fled to the United States. Neither Estevan nor Taylor cried at or during the retelling of such a horror and later Taylor defends their actions, or lack thereof, saying, “It’s hard to explain, but a certain kind of horror is beyond tears” (p. 183). Estevan continues to describe how he finds peace in believing that his little girl is thriving somewhere else, in a safe and respectable environment, something he cannot provide in his present situation.
In reminding himself that he cannot provide a safe atmosphere for a child, much less himself and his wife, he finds peace in the chance that Ismene, through the horrible conditions she has endured, is possibly able to gain opportunities that could not have been given to her if she had not been taken away. In choosing to save the other union members he and Esperanza were able to grasp a new beginning in what is thought of as the American Dream and unknowingly give Ismene better prospects. But with Border Patrol and immigration laws they are forced to sneak, hide and sacrifice, yet they are safer and still have more than before; the chances to find a fresh start still remain, somewhere and somehow. He is revitalized in his hope for chances, opportunities, dreams, and fresh starts for him and his broken family.
Later, at Mr. Armistead’s office, Estevan and Esperanza pretend to be Steve and Hope Two-Two, saying they are Turtle’s birth parents and Taylor poses as Turtle’s adoptive mother. Mr. Armistead, believing the performance in front of him whole-heartedly, reminds them all of the permanence of the adoption, and asks the “Two-Two’s” to confirm that they are ready to give up their daughter. Esperanza begins to sob at this and says, “We love her. Maybe someday we will have more children, but not now. Now is so hard….we have nothing, no home.”(p. 287). After the entire episode is over and Turtle is now “April Turtle Greer” all four friends head to the safe house in Oklahoma inside a church for a fresh start for both Estevan and Esperanza.
Somewhere in Esperanza’s speech Taylor realizes that there is no acting needed in this situation for Esperanza; in her mind she is now letting go of Ismene and giving her over, symbolically, into safe hands, in this case Taylors care. This is her closure and allows her to finally be at peace. Now she and Estevan are able to move on and begin again, in their new lives at the safe house. In the likeness of Turtle to Ismene and symbolism of the situation of her adoption and their role-play, she is revived to someone much closer to the true Esperanza and is a step closer to happiness. Just as the poem beautifully puts, the leaving behind of troubles or better known as moving on, and time provides, even as outcomes of misfortunes, opportune chances, not able to be reached without the trials.
Even as the poem metaphorically sets up an imaginary picture, bringing faith to those in the midst of the trials, the hope and dreams of the chances of results and the future bring peace. Both the poem and book are closely tied on a theme, motif, and even character basis. Both express the need for time, love, patience, faith, hope for favorable chances, and even misfortunes and these are the needed for the journey. It was once said, by Lao Tzu, that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” But what was left out was what would be needed for the rest of the journey, for as it is known it’s not enough just to take one step.
Though maybe needing to take a detour to obtain these qualities, possibly crossing over few, to many tribulations, they are still needed. Once being exposed to them and or obtaining them one is ready to begin to find themselves. Therefore, leading to the rebirth of a new and matured person. In Corinthians 13:13 it says, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” These things, though in no way easy to possess, how we express them and if we allow ourselves to take what they offer are what define us and our life’s path or journey. This proves what Vijay Sherigar said in his poem Journey to be true, “Tried with luck; tried with hard work, tried with destiny too….It’s not been an easy journey.”
1 Corinthians 13: Love Is the Greatest
Works Cited: Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1996. My Rebirth
Works Cited: Deaths, Maiden. “My Rebirth.” All Poetry. <http://allpoetry.com/poem/2314032-My_Rebirth-by-Raven_Tears> (20 August 2011). Journey
Works Cited: Sherigar, Vijay. “Journey.” PoemHunter. February 25, 2008. <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/journey-41/> (20 August 2011). The Idea of Resurrection (Restoration; Rebirth; Renewal; Revival) as a Motif Works Cited: Kingsolver, Barbara. “Literary Analysis: The Bean Trees. Helium. April 30, 2007. < http://www.helium.com/items/307860-literary-analysis-the-bean-trees-by-barbara-kingsolver> (20 August 11). Works Cited: SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote