Of all the ideas portrayed in Barbara Kingsolver’s, The Bean Trees, one of the most important is the relationship between Turtle and Taylor. After being abandoned, Taylor shows Turtle that someone still cares for her, creating the idea of motherhood, which was what Taylor was initially trying to avoid. As Taylor’s journey begins, she’s originally running from everything in Kentucky- pregnancy being one of those many things.
As Taylor is taking a break from driving, she arrives at a bar and receives a child. She explains this to the Indian woman who was giving her the child, but the woman insists on Taylor taking it. ‘”If I wanted a baby I would have stayed in Kentucky,’ I informed her. ‘I could have had babies coming out my ears by now”‘(24). When Taylor is presented with the task of caring for the child, she is disconcerted, although she will soon realize that she made the right choice, even though she was faced with this drawback.Order now
Leaving the child in a stranger’s possession was one of the best decisions the woman had made- Taylor learned to love the child more then that woman ever would’ve. Deciding to keep Turtle, rather then abandoning her with someone else, was the first step toward motherhood- a feeling that Taylor had never experienced. Seeing that the child was abused and vulnerable made Taylor feel the obligation to keep her. “‘I found my head rights, Mama. They’re coming with me'” (32). Naturally, as a woman, seeing that an infant was abused, Taylor felt accountable for caring for Turtle as if she were her own child.
As the story progresses, so does the relationship between Taylor and Turtle. Taylor begins to feel emotionally attached to Turtle, and even feeling what Turtle herself cannot express. When Turtle is attending Kid Central Station, Taylor’s intuition tells her that it was not the best option for Turtle to be in the program. “Kid Central Station was not doing Turtle any good. I knew that” (90). The only way that Taylor could know this is if they had a strong connection, which is exactly what they had by this point.
A maternal connection was being established with Taylor and Turtle. By now, the two were inseparable, and even Taylor herself recognized this. When she was looking for a place to live, and they visit the first potential home, Fay asks Taylor if Turtle would be accompanying her, which in turn leads to Taylor responding by saying, “‘Right. We’re a set'”(93), which made it clear that Taylor was going to keep Turtle- even if someone didn’t accept that decision.
The more time that Taylor spends with Turtle, the more she comes to care for her. The maternal bond is as strong as ever, and there is no way for Taylor to hide it. When Taylor, Mattie, Lou Ann, Dwayne Ray, Esperanza and Estevan are returning from their picnic, and their vehicle suddenly stops, Taylor believes that Turtle was hurt. “‘Jesus, that was Turtle,’ I said. ‘Lou Ann, that was her, wasn’t it? She made that sound. Is her neck broken?'”(128). Taylor was tentative of whether or not Turtle was okay, and the possibility that Turtle could have been hurt alarmed her. Why? Because now her and Turtle had became so engaged with each other that Taylor could not bear to know that something terrible might have happened to Turtle.
As Taylor, Esperanza, Turtle and Estevan continued their journey through the Cherokee Nation, Turtle said something that Taylor was not expecting to hear- something that distressed her. “Once, all of a sudden, Turtle shouted, ‘Mama!’ She was pointing out the window. My heart lost its beat for a second. To my knowledge she had never referred to anyone as Mama”(275). Taylor felt that the name “Mama” pertained to her- after all, she had cared for Turtle for over six months, helping her overcome the awful situations she had been faced with in her short life.
So, after hearing her call someone (or something) else “Mama”, Taylor could not help but feel jealous. She felt that Turtle was her own child. After all, she was about to adopt her legally, and she had sacrificed so many things to keep Turtle in her possession. She could have left Turtle with a stranger and continued her journey. She could’ve given her up to the government after talking to the social worker. But she was determined to keep her, no matter what could have happened. She was so obstinate about keeping Turtle in her possession that she went to great lengths to fulfill her goal.
In Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, Kingsolver displays many ideas, although the most significant one would have to be the relationship between Taylor and Turtle. Taylor begins as a woman trying to avoid everything from her home, including pregnancy, but eventually ends up raising a child herself even though the child was not originally hers. Kingsolver shows that, even though people can be faced with something that might not be what they initially wanted, it can result in something wonderful.
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Bean Trees. New York: Harper Collins. 1998.