Jose Arroyo Professor Lardner ENG 364 30 October 2017 Heroism in Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees In “Garden of Autoparts: Kingsolver’s Merger of American Western Myth and Native American Myth in The Bean Trees ,” Catherine Himmelwright argues that by implementing a connection between a female protagonist and the Native American experience, Kingsolver creates a new road genre. Himmelwright’s interpretation of the novel illuminates this idea as she focuses on the characters and plot of The Bean Trees . In “On the Asphalt Frontier: American Women’s Road Narratives, Spatiality, and Transgression,” Alexandra Ganser argues that females who share the open road with males face challenges, and the transgression of public versus private and culture versus natural space in terms of gendered boundaries is a rest source of those challenges and conflicts. As generative as Himmelwright’s and Ganser’s analyses of Kingsolver’s novel are, Himmelwright overlooks Taylor being portrayed as a heroic figure while Ganser’s does not provide evidence from Kingsolver’s novel to support her claims. By implementing research done by Himmelwright and Ganser, alongside some textual evidence within The Bean Trees , readers will understand why Taylor is a heroic female road protagonist in The Bean Trees . Although Himmelwright classifies Taylor as an adventurer and domesticator, she does not focus heavily enough on how Taylor is a heroic figure in The Bean Trees . In Himmelwright’s discussion of Kingsolver’s attempt at changing the Western formula in road narratives, a connection to heroism could be made. For example, when Himmelwright says, “Kingsolver
creates a protagonist who yearns for escape,” she could have explained how the scene where Taylor gave up her independence to save a child’s life proves how she is a heroic character (122). Since Taylor wanted to escape from the “environment where most young girls become pregnant and marry,” readers will compare Taylor to other heroic figures because she accepts the life she tried to avoid and that was motherhood (Himmelwright 124). “Escaping pregnancy,” as Himmelwright claims, is what drives Taylor’s character to flee Pittman County, and since she accepts her role as Turtle’s mother, she displays the heroic feat of saving a human’s life (124). When Himmelwright says, “Finding “bruises and worse” on the child’s body,” she could have documented this as a heroic characteristic in Taylor’s character considering how heroes tend to carry massive amounts of responsibility (127). Since Taylor was never obligated to check Turtle’s body for any wounds or markings, this sequence demonstrates that of a heroic being. Though Himmelwright does not directly compare Taylor to heroes like Superman, Spiderman, and others, she brings up one mythical figure who carries heroic traits: Star Woman.