The Bean Trees

How does the author satirize the life style of "hippies" or those who live in an ecological focused commune?


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While Kingsolver employs a generally light tone through most of The Bean Trees, she uses the fifth chapter of the novel primarily as an absurd satiric comedy. The centerpiece of the chapter, Taylor's visit to the odd commune, proves a savvy parody of ŒNew Age' principles, particularly when filtered through the view of the practical, down-to-earth narrator. The members of the commune are sharply rendered types, claiming to adhere to an unconventional lifestyle and to be "open to new ideas" but instead proving themselves to be rigid, dogmatic and humorless. Kingsolver does not spare any satiric details, from the pretentious names (Fei and La-Isha) to the politically correct dogma that gender is not an issue (when the question about Turtle's gender was asked innocently) to the adherence to strict yet unproven diet principles. Kingsolver portrays these characters essentially as hypocrites and frauds, and justly uses them as comic material to help Lou Ann and Taylor bond.