The Bean Trees | Study Guide

Barbara Kingsolver

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The Bean Trees | Chapter 5 : Harmonious Space | Summary



Taylor had been working at the Burger Derby but quit her job after a fight with her boss. She spends her mornings at a coffee shop hunting the want ads and the for rents. She picks two for rent ads to check out and takes Turtle to interview both of the potential roommates. At the first house, she meets Fei, La-Isha, and Timothy, who are starting up a soy-milk collective. They are welcoming, but Taylor doesn't feel comfortable in the house because they lead a very progressive, new age lifestyle. The second ad leads her to the house of Lou Ann Ruiz, right across the park from Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. The two women quickly find they have a lot in common, from their Kentucky origins to their taste in music and their amusement at the lifestyle of the roommates from the first for rent ad. Taylor and Lou Ann agree that Taylor and Turtle should move in.


In Chapter 3, Taylor decides to stay in Arizona because it is so strange and different from her home in Kentucky. She's amazed by rock formations as much as by what she perceives as the oddities of its downtown art galleries. In this chapter, as she nabs newspapers from her local coffee shop, she takes notice of a woman who always darts in to pick up the leftover food items to use as models in her still lifes. The first three roommates are a further novelty. They don't have regular furniture, they ask if Turtle is a spirit name, worry about toxins in foods, and run a soy-milk collective. They even directly ask whether "the child" will be living in the house too. For Taylor, these people are part of the oddity and foreignness of Arizona.

By contrast, Taylor and Lou Ann could practically be sisters the first time they meet. They come from towns in Kentucky not too far away from one another, they attended the same concert in high school, and they giggle about the new age people that Taylor had just left. Lou Ann accepts Turtle and listens to Taylor's story of how they came to be together. Lou Ann and Taylor's meeting seems meant to be since they both feel at home with one another. It is almost as if they have found kindred spirits, but perhaps it's just the comfort of the familiar. As Lou Ann says, "It's been so long .... You talk just like me."

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