Chapter 16 : Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will
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Kingsolver creates tension over two major points during the visit to Armistead's office: the first source of tension is whether the entire ruse will work, while the second is whether Esperanza will relinquish her custody' over Turtle or attempt to take Turtle for herself. The first source of contention is easily resolved, partially because of the contempt that Armitead shows for his clients. He readily believes that Esperanza and Estevan would want to abandon their child because of their supposed Indian background, and even considers Turtle as little more than chattel, calling her "it."
Kingsolver plays with the dualities of parenthood with Estevan's comment to Turtle that she must be strong like her mother. Taylor considers it a compliment that he might be referring to her as Turtle's mother, but in an equally and not mutually exclusive way he likely refers to the strength of his wife at this moment, praising her for her strength in letting go of Turtle just as she nobly let go of Ismene. Kingsolver leaves no doubt that the emotions that Esperanza expresses as she gives up Turtle are real; she genuinely mourns the loss of Turtle, both as the loss of a child she cares for and as a loss by proxy of her actual daughter.