The Bean Trees | Study Guide

Barbara Kingsolver

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The Bean Trees | Chapter 8 : The Miracle of Dog Doo Park | Summary

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Summary

Taylor shares with Lou Ann the surprising news that her mother is engaged to be married. Lou Ann accuses Taylor of talking "about men like they're a hangnail," to which Taylor responds that she likes Estevan. Later, Taylor walks with Estevan and apologizes for Virgie Mae's "wrong and unkind" words about immigrants, but Estevan brushes it off, saying that this is just how Americans think: "You believe that if something terrible happens to someone, they must have deserved it." Taylor begins to understand that the people who come to stay with Mattie have entered the country illegally and need to remain quietly under the radar.

Taylor takes Turtle to see Dr. Pelinowsky, posing as the girl's foster parent. The doctor tells Taylor that Turtle appears to be a healthy two-year-old, but that the x-rays show that she is actually a three-year-old who has undergone a significant physical or emotional deprivation and abuse that caused her to stop growing for a period of time. Meanwhile, Angel returns to tell Lou Ann that he will leave to follow the rodeo circuit and that he wants a divorce. Lou Ann discusses it with Taylor at the zoo, where they discover that Turtle's real name is April.

Analysis

Taylor is selective when it comes to men. She doesn't think that Harland Elleston is good enough for her mother, that Angel is good enough for Lou Ann, or that any boy back home was good enough for her. Lou Ann and Mama Greer are more practical. They find a decent man, get married, and hope for the best, even when it seems there isn't much left to hope for. Taylor makes one exception for Estevan, knowing that she can't have him since he's married to Esperanza.

Taylor's visit to Dr. Pelinowsky's examination of the girl's x-rays show that Turtle suffered so much that she stopped growing, making her appear a full year younger than she actually is. Taylor stops listening and looking while the doctor is still explaining. She allows Lou Ann to complain about Angel's visit and request for a divorce rather than share her shock and dismay at the news the doctor gave her.

It is in this chapter that Lou Ann first thinks that she has discovered Turtle's real name, April. It happens to be the month of April, and when Lou Ann says the word, she notices a reaction from Turtle. This chapter sees Turtle happy and healthy enough in her present life that previously hidden parts of her past—her suffering, her age, and her name—can be revealed.

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