The Bean Trees

What one aspect of life bothered Taylor as she roomed with Lou Ann? What was Taylor trying to make Lou Ann understand when she talked about household tools?


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Kingsolver also deals with the problematic issue of Taylor's view of men in this chapter. There is definitely a subtext of androgyny around Taylor, who rejects her obviously feminine names (Marietta and Missy) for a more masculine moniker. Taylor views men only in terms of functionality: they can satisfy certain needs and serve certain roles, but no single man could use "all of her parts." Taylor's view of men as objects meant for functional purposes is one of her various attitudes that will shift through the course of the novel, as she learns to accept men for the less functional purposes that they may serve. Even the symbolism throughout the novel underscores Taylor's belief in men as mere tools: she buys a card that implicitly compares a man with a pipe wrench, then later makes the explicit comparison between a man and a toilet.

The differences between Taylor and Lou Ann become more explicit in this chapter with the greater description of Lou Ann's view on life. Lou Ann is unerringly paranoid, nervous and paralyzed by anxiety over any possible rejection. She behaves diplomatically in order to diffuse possible disasters, believing that any minor mistake might lead to the end of a friendship. Lou Ann lives her life constantly on guard against disasters, convinced that one will befall her either out of poor luck or, worse, her own carelessness.