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Another prominent example of motherhood is Lou Ann’s relationship with Dwayne Ray. Although the baby has not developed a personality yet, and cannot respond with his mother, we cannot tell how Dwayne Ray’s part of the relationship is, but we can predict how it will be. It can be assumed that he will always be cared for by his mother, Lou Ann, for her worrisome ways and fear of her sons death keep her a vigilant mother, unrelenting in keeping him as safe and healthy as possible. When she asked Taylor of her opinion of her motherhood skills, Taylor replied that “‘The flip side of worrying to much is just not caring…
Dwayne Ray will always know that, no matter what, you’re never going to neglect him. You’ll never just sit around and let him dehydrate, or grow up without a personality, or anything like that. And that would be ever so much worse. You read about it happening in the paper all the time… Somebody forgetting a baby in a car and letting It roast, or some such thing. If anything, Lou Ann, you’re just too good of a mother. ‘” (pg. 156) of which she speaks total truth that Lou Ann, although worrisome and lacking in backbone, still is a good mother, because she tries with all her efforts to make sure Dwayne Ray grows up.
She is of the most passionate of mothers in the book, and will do her utmost to see to it that Dwayne Ray will live past 2000, despite whatever her dreams and nightmares may tell her. Taylor, the main mother of the book, is the only non-biological mother represented, which makes her relationship with Turtle all the more special, meaning that she took her despite their lack of family ties, and fought to keep her, although she could have easily relinquished her duties as mother.
Throughout the book, she plays a role she’s avoided all her life, in order to protect and care for this little girl that was given to her care against her own wishes. She has absolutely no clue what to do, and constantly worries that she isn’t raising Turtle properly. Her worries are lessened, however, after Turtle beings speaking, her first noise being laughter because if Turtle was unhappy, she would have not laughed when she did a somersault.
Taylor becomes more confidant in her role, and eventually accepts it to be perfectly normal, as does everyone else, and no one even considers Turtle not to be Taylor’s child, proven when many biological references are made between the two, despite their lack of blood ties. After Turtle is attacked in the park, Taylor begins to think that she isn’t doing a good job as a segregate mother, and when Turtle is threatened to be taken away from Taylor, she feels that the case to save Turtle is helpless and begins to think that the state department would do better than she would in raising the child.
However, Mattie convinces her otherwise when she tells Taylor that she isn’t asking the correct questions, that “You’re asking yourself, Can I give this child the best possible upbringing and keep her out of harms way her whole life long? The answer is no, you can’t. But nobody else can either. Not a state home, that’s for sure. For heaven’s sake, the best they can do is turn their heads while the kids learn to pick locks and snort hootch, and then try to keep them out of jail. Nobody can protect a child from the world…
Do I think it would be interesting, maybe even enjoyable in the long run, to share my life with this kid and give her my best effort and maybe when all’s said and done, end up with a good friend. ‘” (pg. 178). What Mattie says here when comforting Taylor is a Barbara Kingsolver definition of motherhood. Taylor worries that she is unable to care for a child, and that with this attack, even the state would do a better job than she could, but, as Mattie said, no one can protect a child from the world, and especially someone that doesn’t care for them, like the state.
They need a mother, a guardian, anyone that cares about them to raise as good a child as chance permits. Through the caring and affection Taylor received as a child, the worry and extreme concern Lou Ann pays Dwayne Ray, and Taylor’s behavior towards a child that is not her own, all show examples of how, biological or not, a mother or a mother-like role in a child’s life can lead them to riches or ruin. Their moral fiber, their behavior, their ethics all depend upon what they are taught and raised upon.
Newt Hardbine and Jolene Shanks never had these morals and ethics instilled in them, thus leading them to terrible, even short lived, lives. Barbara Kingsolver uses these examples, even through minor characters such as Sandi at the Burger Derby and Bobby Bingo who sells vegetables out of his truck. All examples seen in The Bean Trees show that Motherhood and the role of a mother plays a predominant part not only in the book, but universally.