Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Bean Trees: Chapters 12 & 13

We're reading The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver.

Click for the posts on Chapter 1, Chapters 2 & 3, Chapters 4 & 5, Chapters 6 & 7, Chapters 8 & 9, and Chapters 10 & 11.

Well, it's a good thing Lou Ann has grown up so much, because she was there for Taylor when she was so overwhelmed by the problems of the world in general and Turtle in particular, and needed a bit of a kick in the butt to make some decisions before the state showed up to take Turtle away.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the symbolism of the bird getting into the house? I found that part pretty weird, to be honest. I mean, clearly Taylor didn't feel able to deal with Turtle and the police, but I suspect there was more to the whole bird-chasing bit than just a device to show Taylor's denial. And then the waving dead crow at the end. You-all have come up with plenty of great observations on other chapters (and the other book) - anybody have a theory about the birds?

The night-blooming flowers are, I guess, a little easier to figure. Rare, unexpected but dependable, blooming from an inauspicious potted plant...and only noticed when the blind woman "sees" them. Here's what one looks like (not at all what I was picturing when I read about them):

Night Blooming Cereus
(From the Wiki, of course. Click the photo for more information.)

So they set out for Oklahoma. Taylor doesn't want to think too much about it, but she obviously knows the risks of what they're doing. The next chapter is titled "Guardian Saints." It's good to know they have some, given the risks.

Chapters 14 & 15 for next week.


pidomon June 22, 2008 5:12 PM  

not sure im smart enough to talk about anything with the bird but it means something i'm sure

the thing that stuck out to me is this is the first time we've seen Taylor in a situation where she didn't have an answer (or at least a smart a** response)

While I felt bad for Turtle it was also nice Taylor realizing what she had signed on to loo those many months before

Bob June 22, 2008 6:36 PM  

Yeah, I'm not sure about the birds either, except, as you said, the diversion from the trauma in the next room. Oh, maybe the dead crow was waving bye to Taylor? I suspect that she may not make it back to Tuscon.

(My least favorite part in English class was when the teacher would ask about the symbolism - because I've always felt that there is no "right" answer, because each reader brings his/her own mindset and experiences to the reading of any book. The teachers didn't like it when I said that, though ;) )

And, as I was reading the chapters, I made a note to talk about the "New Year's Day" rainfall, and how much I loved that whole part (especially the description of the Tuscon Valley being stretched out below like a palm waiting to be read)... but that kind of got blown away by what happened later.

Anonymous June 22, 2008 7:56 PM  

And the frogs that had always been there, just waiting for rain. Both Taylor and LouAnn, in different ways, were frogs hibernating, waiting for the rain to truly live.

As for the song sparrow in the kitchen, sometimes it hurts a lot before one is free. Sometimes, one has to be cruel to help someone find that freedom. And sometimes, as in the case of the dead blackbird, freedom is fatal. IMO. YMMV.

gabi June 23, 2008 6:58 PM  

Is it a crow or a blackbird? This probably makes a difference.

I've read some Kingsolver. Not this piece. I think she tries too hard to be esoteric which creates the sort of confusion you brought up. She does succeed on the atmospheric but not with the forced esoteric.

pidomon June 23, 2008 8:45 PM  

dang it Christina stop being so dang smart :)

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