The Bean Trees: Novel Summary: Chapter 8 -9

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Chapter 8 -9

Chapter Eight
Mattie goes away for several days at a time, leaving Taylor in charge of the store. When she returns, she has people with her. A young, red-haired doctor comes to take care of them because sometimes they have cigarette burns.
 
Taylor takes Turtle to the doctor. She has a hard time getting in, however, because she has no background information on Turtle. She gets away with explaining she is her foster mother, but she is told to bring paperwork next time. The doctor finds that Turtle is actually three years old but that she suffered failure to thrive because of the abuse. Now, she is thriving, but she will always have the healed fractures inside her.
 
Angel comes back to tell Lou Ann he is leaving town and filing for divorce. Lou Ann is distraught. However, she and Taylor end up laughing and having a good time together instead of dwelling on the divorce.
 
Chapter Nine
Estevan comes to see Taylor. He tells her that Esperanza tried to commit suicide. Taylor is surprised, but Estevan tells her why his wife wants to end her life. They were both part of a teacher's union in Guatemala, which was forbidden. So, they were tortured. Moreover, their daughter, Ismene, was abducted by the police who wanted to use her to get the couple to reveal the identities of people in the union. Knowing she would be adopted by another family but not harmed, they chose to let their daughter go rather than risk the lives of seventeen people.
 
Taylor also reveals something about her past. In her town in Kentucky, there were three groups: the town kids, the hoodlums, and the poor kids who were called "Nutters." This was because they harvested walnuts to earn money to buy school clothes, but then they had hands stained black, so everyone knew they were poor.
 
Analysis
These two chapters contrast the benefits of having someone who loves you with the devastation that human beings can inflict upon one another. Turtle was horribly mistreated, but once she has love she blossoms, like the tree in Dog Doo Park that seems dead but then blooms in the spring. Estevan and Esperanza treated other human beings well, protecting seventeen lives, but they are now haunted by the loss of their daughter.
 
Both chapters also have examples of the trouble that can come from the attraction between a man and a woman. Angel has destroyed Lou Ann's self-esteem. Her love for him is unhealthy because she is dependent upon him and willing to put up with his coldness. Meanwhile, Taylor and Estevan have feelings for each other, as evidenced by their ending up holding each other. However, Taylor does the honorable thing and leaves to go to bed because it could be very hurtful to Esperanza. The contrast of these two demonstrates that, while attraction can be problematic, it can be handled in a healthy way by people who care about others.

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