The Bean Trees

What is ironic about the job that Taylor takes? How is it an appropriate development in terms of the themes and messages of the novel? How does Mattie respond to Taylor's revelation, and what effect does it seem to have on their relationship?

Chapter 6 : Valentine's Day

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There is certainly irony concerning Taylor's job at Jesus Is Lord Used Tires: of all the irrational fears that one could have, Taylor fears tires, and of all the jobs that Taylor could get, she finds one at a used tires shop. It is the tough but compassionate Mattie who exposes the absurdity of Taylor's fear: if her solution to Taylor's fear is less than graceful, it nevertheless relieves Taylor of her phobia.

Yet a more important detail in this chapter of The Bean Trees is the development of Mattie's role, not only in her relationship with Taylor, but in her larger role within society. It is Mattie who introduces the international scope of the novel, broadening Taylor's world even farther from her original view of a world limited to Pittman County. Mattie is the exemplar for the values that Kingsolver espouses through The Bean Trees: she is the epitome of a caretaker, not simply for family, but for all of those in need. She expresses most of Taylor's best characteristics: determination, courage and a no-nonsense attitude, but does so to a larger extent. While Taylor is the narrator for The Bean Trees, Mattie is to a great extent its paragon and heroine.