Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Bean Trees: Chapters 6 & 7

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

Click for the posts on Chapter 1, Chapters 2 & 3, and Chapters 4 & 5.

The thing that struck me most in reading the latest chapters was how much information Kingsolver manages to convey to the reader through the dialogue and experiences of the characters, without the characters themselves necessarily understanding the full extent of the situation.

Taylor is a lot more sophisticated than Lou Ann in many ways, but even she doesn´t really seem to understand what´s going on with the refugees that pass through Mattie and Father William´s care.

But the comments here and there, the barely-glimpsed newscast, and the actions of Estevan and Esperanza themselves speak volumes about what they and others have been through, and the risks that Mattie and Father William are taking in their efforts to help them.

Of course, the pruny old lady at the dinner party is in a whole different category of "doesn´t get it" - Taylor and Lou Ann are limited by the extent of their knowledge, but respond to what they learn about new people and situations. Virgie Mae, on the other hand, embodies closed-minded, willful ignorance.

I do love the various characters. Every one of them is the kind of person we´ve all known at one time or another. Even--perhaps especially--Virgie Mae, and Estevan´s reaction to her.

The one quarrel I have with these chapters is that I´m used to seeing the name written Esteban and it´s grating to read it spelled with a "v". The "b" and "v" sounds are so interchangeable in Spanish that a lot of people use them relatively interchangeably in spelling as well. It´s one time when I, as an English speaker, have an advantage because I consider them two very different sounds, and can often tell which is called for, especially when a word is similar to English. For instance, votar (to vote) and botar (to throw away) are pronounced pretty similarly, but it´s obvious to me which one takes the "v".

Anyway. Next two chapters for next week!


pidomon June 01, 2008 10:38 AM  

two great chapters
loved Lou Ann talking about speaking up in church about the lords pee pee

Also nice to see Turtle starting to grow up a litlle and I agree with Taylor I think she has a lot of personality.
I loved the description about how busy her eyes were when she was sleeping/dreaming
"In sleep it seemed she was free do to do all the things that during her waking life she could only watch"

So sayeth Esteban

Jennifer June 01, 2008 10:40 AM  

Awww, you spelled it my way!

I thought for sure you´d go pedantic on me about how Kingsolver´s spelling is more correct because it has a V in English :)

Bob June 01, 2008 10:45 AM  

I knew that Mattie and Father William (nice name, btw) would figure more prominently.

I love the character development as well, and the open-minded naiveté of Taylor and Lou Ann.

And, somehow, I've never seen that episode of Star Trek with a planetful of naked women. ;)

pidomon June 01, 2008 4:15 PM  

I think thats one of the extras on the DVDS LOL

Jen we almost moved to El Paso once so in my family it has always been with a "B" but I guess considering my nicknames that makes sense :)

Anonymous June 02, 2008 1:54 PM  

I don't have my copy of my book with me but beyond the characterization, the revelations for the characters themselves--the evolution of their characters, is paramount in these chapters, if I remember correctly.

Taylor's schoolgirl crush on Esteban, her complete naiveté about Esperanza's pain and the tunnel vision she has about Mattie and Fr. William all talk of how much of a teenager Taylor still is.

Same can be said of LouAnn. Neither of these women really grew up--until now. LouAnn becomes a real powerhouse when she is given the chance for independence.

Seems to me that both of these women, in different ways, were never given the independence to allow for maturity--one through protection, the other through oppression but the effect was still to create children in grown bodies in some ways.

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