The Bean Trees

What is the setting of Chapters 3 and 4? When did these events take place? How does the setting shape the experience of the characters?


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Taylor's first experiences in Tucson demonstrate the extent to which she exists as a foreigner in the large city. Kingsolver portrays Taylor as nearly overwhelmed by the new sights in the city; she bolsters this with the random depiction of Taylor walking into the art gallery, in which the woman is rude to Taylor because of her lack of knowledge and, likely, because of her class status. Applying to the blood bank gives additional evidence of this condescension against the obviously new and inexperienced Taylor, yet these incidents do not diminish her indomitable spirit. Kingsolver portrays them as obstacles but not setbacks.

The theme of Taylor as a foreigner takes a comic turn when Taylor becomes friends with Sandi from the Burger Derby. Sandi appreciates Taylor as an outsider because she may be privy to information about racehorses (being from Kentucky) that Sandi could never garner. Although Taylor genuinely appreciates Sandi, she uses this status to shock the impressionable Sandi.

Sandi provides yet another example in the novel of a single mother coping with an unwanted (but not unloved) child. Like Lou Ann and Taylor (and, as the novel will show, in a more abstract sense Mattie), Sandi finds herself parenting Seattle through compromises and the sheer fortitude of necessity.