The Bean Trees: Novel Summary: Chapter 5 -7

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Chapter 5 -7

Chapter Five
Taylor takes a job at Burger Derby, where she is friendly with a girl named Sandi. They both leave their children at the free daycare at the mall, which Taylor knows is not a good place for Turtle. After six days, Taylor gets in a fight with the manager, "this little twerp who believed that the responsibility of running a burger joint put you a heartbeat away from Emperor of the Universe" (70). She loses her job.
 
She decides to look for a roommate with who she can move in. The first place she goes is a soy milk cooperative, where "A house requirement is that each person spend at least seven hours a week straining curd" (74). The second house is Lou Ann's. The two women get along wonderfully, finding that they have a lot in common. Taylor agrees to move in, along with Turtle.
 
Chapter Six
Despite her deep fear of exploding tires, Taylor takes a job at Jesus is Lord Used Tires. It is a good arrangement. Sometimes, she brings Turtle to work with her, sometimes Lou Ann watches both children. The only thing that bothers Taylor is that she and Lou Ann are acting like an old married couple with each other. But, she talks this over with Lou Ann and they both feel better.
 
Turtle still does not speak or do much other than grab onto things. Lou Ann worries about this, thinking perhaps it is because they have not figured out her name. Taylor, however, thinks Turtle is just doing things her own way. She buys a book for Turtle that has lots of vegetables in it because it reminds her of Mattie's vegetable garden.
 
Chapter Seven
Through Mattie, Taylor meets two Guatemalan refugees, Estevan and his wife, Esperanza. They go on a picnic expedition together. Esperanza, who is very small and fragile, is very taken aback when she first sees Turtle. Estevan says that Turtle reminds his wife of a child they knew in Guatemala. Although Estevan was an English teacher in Guatemala, in the United States he washes dishes at a Chinese restaurant.
 
Meanwhile, Turtle begins to emerge from her protective shell. She starts to speak. However, all of her words are vegetables. Nonetheless, this emerging personality is quite welcome to Taylor.
 
Taylor and Lou Ann work out an arrangement that is more like roommates and less like a married couple. They also have Estevan and Esperanza over for dinner on the night Mattie is on television news. In addition, their neighbors, Edna Poppy and Virgie May Parsons come over. On television, Mattie talks about the plight of people fleeing violent regimes. Mrs. Parsons expresses her bigoted view that people should remain in their own countries, but Edna smoothes it over. Estevan tells a story about how people in heaven help each other.
 
Analysis
Taylor is beginning to make a community and a life for herself. Mattie is a strong woman, but it is increasingly clear she has something to hide. A priest brings South American families to live with her for brief periods of time, and she tells Taylor her house is a sanctuary. It seems that these people are illegal immigrants fleeing dangerous situations.
 
Turtle is aptly named because she was indeed hiding in a protective shell. Someone had tried to hurt her and she withdrew. Now, however, she seems to feel safe, and she is slowly emerging. She laughs and begins to talk. Love gives her her life back.
 
That is the case with the women in this book. Each was hurting or missing something. But, when they come together and support each other, they start to form a community. Neither Taylor nor Lou Ann would be able to raise her child on her own, but together they form a partnership. Mattie has a lot of love to give, but she also needs help around the store, which Taylor can provide. The women have a common desire to help out one another.

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