the bean trees
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Although we are not told directly, it seems clear that Newt Hardbine committed suicide. Kingsolver emphasizes that fathers are often absent or unable to contribute to a stable family environment. Most of the characters in the novel are single mothers or assuming the role of a single mother--Taylor's mother, Taylor, Sandi. Angel Ruiz abandons his Lou Ann leaving her to raise their child without him. Women are often left to be single mothers and Kingsolver points out that many find the strength to do it successfully. But men are not removed entirely from the picture of families. Esteban and Esperanze are illustrate that as does the Mama Greer's remarriage to Harland.
Fathers are certainly not prominent in the novel. It appears that Newt Hardbine commits suicide early in the novel leaving his wife Jolene to care for their child. Marietta's father was never a part of her family as she was growing up. Taylor assumes the role of a single mother for Taylor. Sandy is a single mother, Lou Ann becomes a single mother when her husband, Angel, abandons her and leaves her to be a single mother for their son. Kingsolver seems to be exploring how single mothers deal with difficulties in their lives caused by the failures of fathers.
Newt Hardbine commits suicide early in the novel leaving his wife Jolene to raise their child on their own. Kingsolver seems to suggest that men are not fulfilling their responsibilities in family life. Marietta's mother is a single mom as is Sandy. Lou Ann's husband, Angel, abandoned her leaving her to raise their son on her own. Taylor also assumes the responsibilities of a single mother caring for Turtle. Kingsolver explores some of the difficulties single mothers face and men (by their absence) are criticized.