Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Bean Trees: Particularly Philosophical

As the sassy and sarcastic narrator, Taylor Greer, goes through some of the most riveting trials of her life in the novel The Bean Trees, the reader hops on a roller coaster ride of emotions and thoughts. The elation, exhilaration, and discombobulation that I felt while reading this book is indescribable. I can only let Taylor Greer lead the way as I journey through her life.

Taylor's character has the perfect fresco of personality traits, which, from a more broad view, creates a flawless character. Her uniquely rude humor, relentless love, and perceptive care combine to create an assertively brusque woman. The thing is, she needs to be bold. Without her steady confidence, she wouldn't be able to handle the tribulations that are hurled at her from life's cannon. Without divulging the extent of these events right now, I really want to recognize Taylor's finesse at handling herself in difficult situations. She calls it "a conspiracy" when "everybody behaved as if Turtle was [her] own flesh and blood daughter" (Bean 110). She sarcastically twists situations after correctly analyzing them, bringing things into her separate plane of life, a different dimension, her realm. However, this realm doesn't forebode danger. She sees things in a very moral way, no matter how her sarcastic voice may express her feelings. Taylor's world is an idea that Kingsolver takes and stretches across the entire novel, for maybe then it will be thin enough for the reader to understand.

Taylor's philosophy of living, rather Kingsolver's since she wrote it, is to embrace life fully without regretting it. While it seems contrary to this philosophy, Taylor shows that it's okay to look back, to pause for a second and review what you've done in your life. No matter how fast a roller coaster may go, the events of life rushing you by without being able to accept the scenery, you always have a chance to turn your head around. In fact, it's a temptation to turn around and examine your deeds, a dangerous temptation at that; a lure. Sometimes you may never know the repercussions of your actions until you search for them. Leaving behind everything in the dust is easy only because it is painless.

But as Taylor finds out, life is full of pain. Life is full of regret, questioning, and tears. Jealousy can creep in like an unnoticed shadow, and sometimes materializes into something more. A monster. Taylor becomes jealous when her adopted daughter, Turtle, becomes attached with another woman who could possibly be a mother figure for her. Taylor felt like "the odd woman out" (Bean 204). The woman, Esperanza, became a friend with Taylor. She is an emigrant from Mexico who lived in the same building as Taylor. When Esperanza and her husband plan on returning to Mexico, Taylor knows that she "really came close to losing Turtle. [She] couldn't have taken her from Esperanza. If [Esperanza] had asked, [Taylor] couldn't have said no" (Bean 215). Kingsolver teaches us, through Taylor, to accept jealousy, and all of the other faults we have. The roller coaster will move us, and sometimes we can't help but be moved. If we tried, we'd die.... It's accepting yourself, and the emotions you have, then being able to reflect on yourself, which will lead you on a good path of life.

~Father Nature, Editor

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