The Bean Trees

How does the author of The Bean Trees discuss immigration?


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Outsiders and Foreigners

A significant theme throughout The Bean Trees is the status of the main characters as outsiders in foreign lands. The most glaring and literal examples of this are Esperanza and Estevan, who are refugees and illegal immigrants in the United States, the most extreme case of characters who have fled from their homeland. However, each of the other main characters are also outsiders in their respective areas. The narrator of the novel, Taylor Greer, and the other primary character, Lou Ann Ruiz, are both outsiders in Tucson, Arizona, refugees of a more abstract sort from their Kentucky origins. However, Kingsolver bolsters the theme of outsiders and foreigners through a treatment of these characters as outsiders in terms of beliefs and attitudes as well as through geography. Taylor finds herself an outsider in rural Kentucky because she does not accept the limited option of becoming a wife and mother, and she further feels herself an outsider when she meets Estevan because she does not believe that she has a voice in important decisions such as the fate of the Guatemalan refugees. The effect of this theme of the novel is that it gives the characters flexibility and a sense of autonomy; the characters of The Bean Trees are not in stasis, but because of their outsider status must continually search for their place within society.