The Bean Trees | Study Guide

Barbara Kingsolver

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The Bean Trees | Characters

Character Description
Taylor Taylor is an independent young woman who drives west from her Kentucky home in search of a new life. She adopts a toddler she names Turtle and settles down in Tucson, living with Lou Ann and working with Mattie. Read More
Turtle Turtle is the three-year-old Cherokee girl who is given to Taylor by her aunt. Turtle has been abused and takes months to speak and return to having a normal childhood with Taylor. Read More
Lou Ann Lou Ann is a young Kentucky woman who left home to marry Angel Ruiz, who left her in Tucson seven months pregnant with their son. Lou Ann rents out her spare bedroom to Taylor and Turtle and begins to build her new life. Read More
Mattie Mattie is the owner of Jesus Is Lord Used Tires in Tucson, where Taylor works. She provides sanctuary to illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. Read More
Estevan Estevan is a Mayan from Guatemala who immigrated to the United States illegally after he and his family were persecuted by the Guatemalan government for his and his wife's participation in a teacher's union. He lives upstairs at Jesus Is Lord Used Tires with his wife Esperanza, with whom he had a daughter named Ismene, and he has a strong bond with Taylor. Read More
Esperanza Esperanza is a Mayan from Guatemala who is married to Estevan and has never gotten over the loss of their daughter, who was taken by the Guatemalan government in retribution for her and her husband's participation in a teacher's union. She immigrated to the United States illegally with her husband and lives upstairs at Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. Read More
Angel Angel Ruiz is Lou Ann's husband, a former rodeo cowboy who lost the lower part of one leg in a car accident. He leaves her and returns to the rodeo circuit, but eventually asks her to join him living in a yurt in Montana.
Dwayne Ray Dwayne Ray is the son of Lou Ann and Angel Ruiz. He is curious and healthy baby boy.
Ismene Ismene is the young daughter of Estevan and Esperanza, who has not been seen since the Guatemalan government abducted her from the couple to try to get them to reveal the names of others in their teacher's union. Estevan and Esperanza think it is likely she was eventually given to a military or government couple who could not have children.
Edna Poppy Edna Poppy is a blind older woman who lives with Virgie Mae Parsons across the park from Lou Ann and Taylor. Edna and Virgie Mae often watch Turtle and Dwayne Rae when their mothers are at work; during one such time, Edna fought off a man who attempted to abduct Turtle.
Virgie Mae Parsons Virgie Mae Parsons is a stodgy older woman who lives with and takes care of the blind Edna Poppy in a house that is across the park from Lou Ann and Taylor. The two older women often look after Turtle and Dwayne Rae when the younger women are at work.
Mama Greer Mama Greer is Taylor's supporting and loving mother who lives in Kentucky and whose full name is Alice Jean Stamper Greer. She eventually marries Harland Elleston, half-owner of a local car body shop.
Harland Elleston Harland Elleston is the half-owner with Ernest Jakes of El'Jay's Paint and Body Shop. He eventually marries Taylor's mother, Mama Greer.
Granny Logan Granny Logan is Lou Ann's crotchety old grandmother and the mother-in-law of Lou Ann's mother, Ivy Logan. She comes to visit Lou Ann with Ivy Logan in Tucson and brings some water from the local creek to baptize Dwayne Rae.
Ivy Logan Ivy Logan is Lou Ann's mother and the daughter-in-law of Granny Logan. She comes to visit Lou Ann in Tucson specifically to see Dwayne Rae after he is born.
Cynthia Cynthia is the strawberry-blond social worker who helps Taylor and Turtle after Edna fights off the stranger who attempted to abduct Turtle from Roosevelt Park. She tells Taylor the state wants to take Turtle and, when Taylor asks how she can keep Turtle, offers Taylor advice about how to secure custody of the child.
Mrs. Hoge Mrs. Hoge is a kind older woman who runs the Mustang Motel (Chapter 1) in Oklahoma for its owner, her son, and encourages Taylor to stay at the motel as long as she needs, giving her a room in exchange for help cleaning rooms. Mrs. Hoge dies of Parkinson's before Taylor and Turtle return on their journey back to Oklahoma City.
Irene Hoge Irene Hoge is the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Hoge, who owns the motel. After Taylor left on her way to Arizona, Mrs. Hoge passed away and left running the motel to her daughter-in-law, who has blossomed in that role, lost weight, and, apparently, renamed the hotel as the Broken Arrow Motor Lodge (Chapter 14) before Taylor returned on her way to Oklahoma City.
Bobby Bingo Bobby Bingo is an older man who sells produce out of his truck in Tucson. Lou Ann stops at his truck to buy some tomatoes on her way home from her seven-month prenatal doctor's appointment, just before learning that Angel has left her.
Newt Hardbine Newt Hardbine is a boy who is a little bit older than Taylor, lives in her hometown, and is the son of the man who was thrown up onto a Standard Oil sign by an exploding tractor tire. He got Jolene Shanks pregnant and married her. Years later, he winds up in the hospital where Taylor works after he tried to shoot Jolene but succeeded in shooting himself.
Jolene Shanks Jolene Shanks is a girl who lived in the same Kentucky town as Taylor and who married Newt Hardbine when she unintentionally became pregnant. Jolene marries Newt and then, years later, shows up in the hospital where Taylor works after Newt tried to shoot her.
Mr. Hughes Walter Mr. Hughes Walter is Taylor's high school science teacher who went to a fancy college in the north and was adored by all of the girls in the school. He got Taylor her job at the hospital after his wife, Linda Walter, asked him to search for students who might want the job.
Linda Walter Linda Walter is the wife of Mr. Hughes Walter, the beloved science teacher at Taylor's high school. She works at the hospital and asked her husband to search for students who might want an open position, which led to Taylor getting her job at the hospital.
Eddie Rickett Eddie Rickett is in charge of the hospital lab where Taylor works after she graduates high school.
Bob Two Bob Two Two is the mechanic who fixes Taylor's rocker arm when it breaks in Oklahoma, which takes her off the interstate near the bar where she will be asked to take Turtle.
Earl Earl is the proprietor of the bar where Taylor stops to eat and is subsequently asked, in the bar's parking lot, to take Turtle and care for her. By the time Taylor returns to the bar hoping to gain custody of Turtle, Earl has sold the place and cannot be found.
Mr. Jonas Wilford Armistead Mr. Jonas Wilford Armistead is the notary in Oklahoma City whose name Cynthia, the social worker, gave to Taylor. Taylor goes to his office to have him witness and notarize documents that transfer custody of Turtle to Taylor from Turtle's parents, whom Estevan and Esperanza pretend to be under fake names.
Mrs. Cleary Mrs. Cleary is the secretary of Mr. Jonas Wilford Armistead. She assists in transferring custody of Turtle to Taylor from Turtle's parents, whom Estevan and Esperanza pretend to be under fake names.
Father William Father William is the priest who helps Mattie secretly transport immigrants between safehouses. As pressure from immigration enforcement increases, he becomes too nervous, and Mattie does not trust him to drive Estevan and Esperanza when they need to move.
Terry Terry is a red-haired doctor who helps Mattie's immigrant underground railroad by providing medical care to those who need it. He moves away to work on the Navajo reservation before Estevan and Esperanza need to move locations.
Cameron John Cameron John is Lou Ann Ruiz's new love interest at the end of the book. He is a gentle, kind man and a former Rastafarian whom she meets while working at Red Hot Mama's salsa factory.
Turtle's aunt Turtle's aunt is a Cherokee woman who approaches Taylor outside of the bar in Oklahoma and asks Taylor to take Turtle, because the aunt believes the child will be better off with Taylor than in her current situation.
Dr. Pelinowsky Dr. Pelinowsky was Lou Ann's obstetrician while she was pregnant Dwayne Rae. He agrees to see Turtle even though he is not a pediatrician, and he informs Taylor that Turtle's bones shows signs of healed physical abuse and a long period of time when she was not growing, leading to her appearing to be two years old when she is really three years old.
Jewel Jewel is the secretary in the office of the social worker, Cynthia. Her son is dyslexic, and she empathizes with Taylor's attempts to let Turtle speak and engage at her own speed.
Lee Sing Lee Sing is the Chinese proprietor of the grocery store behind Jesus Is Lord Tires. Her shop is patronized by Lou Ann, Taylor, Virgie Mae Parsons, and Edna Poppy.
Manny Quiroz Manny Quiroz is a friend of Angel and Lou Ann Ruiz who moved to San Diego, taking Angel's blue hat with him. Manny, his wife Ramona, and Angel lied to Lou Ann about what she missed during the one time she ever got drunk.
Ramona Quiroz Ramona Quiroz is the wife of Manny Quiroz, a friend of Angel and Lou Ann Ruiz. She moved to San Diego with her husband, but eventually admitted to Lou Ann that she, Manny, and Angel had lied to her about the meteor shower they had claimed to see the one time Lou Ann had gotten drunk.
Sandi Sandi is Taylor's horse-obsessed friend and coworker at the Burger Derby. Sandi shares her childcare secret, that she takes her child to a daycare for mall-shoppers while she works at the Burger Derby.
Fei Fei is one of the roommates at the first house that Taylor visits from a for rent ad in the newspaper. She takes control of the interview and although she is very welcoming, she is very new age and different from Taylor and Turtle.
La-Isha La-Isha is a slightly less-welcoming roommate at the first house where Taylor interviews to rent their spare room. She is accepting of Taylor and Turtle, saying that she is "flex on children."
Timothy Timothy is the least new age of the three roommates at the first apartment where Taylor interviews to live. He "used caffeine" the day before the interview, so Fei tells Taylor his homeostasis is out of balance.
Snowboots Snowboots is Lou Ann Ruiz's cat, who lives with her, Dwayne Rae, Taylor, and Turtle. Lou Ann thinks the cat has a split personality because he acts in unexpected ways.
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