Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees

The Sights and Symbols of the Novel
by Cathy Decker

Visitors Since 8/8/99
Last Update
7 /1/03
A Note from Dr. Cathy Decker on This Site
1 July 2003

This book was the Chaffey College Book of the Year for Fall 1999-Spring 2000. This site was designed in part to help activities during that year, but it has since been modified and expanded. Now in 2003, the Chaffey College Book of the Year program has currently lost some or all of its funding, and its future is in question.

Some visitors to this site may note the name change from "Sights and Sounds" to "Sights and Symbols." I never mastered the technology involved with different sound systems--also since I don't know how to create sound files, I faced the problem of documentation and avoiding plagiarization or unauthorized use. I decided that my skills as a Ph.d. in the novel were more suited to analysis of symbolism, rather than dealing with sound files.

I have taught this novel to developmental composition classes, freshman composition classes, critical thinking classes, and one introductory literature course. What has impressed me most about the novel is the fact that I constantly feel I learn more each time I read or teach the novel. The wide range of minor characters and huge number of social issues treated on a small or large scale make the novel very adaptable to a variety of approaches and topics. I have focused in different teaching sessions involving the novel on such varied things as the logical fallacies that characters make, the different values of women in different cultures, the conflict between what is ethical and what is legal, advances in medicine to detect and prosecute child abuse, 911 systems, adoption laws, racism, genetics and the nature vs. nurture debate, homelessness, abstract art, new age culture, male-bashing, food safety, depression, suicide, torture and interrogation, the rights of the handicapped, high expenses involved with prosthetics, health insurance, rural stereotypes, immigration, genocide, forensic detection, international justice, reparations, the role of the citizen, etc.

Very few of the images on this site are things I have photographed myself or scanned into a computer format. I have linked to sites whose images I have used and identified copyrighted material. Some images I collected for teaching before I intended to publish this site on the web, and I carelessly and unfortunately have lost the source information of some images. I will try to gradually replace all such undocumented images. Please assume all images are copyright to someone else and do not use them for commercial purposes. Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss image credits, to have an image of yours credited in a different way or removed from this site, or have other questions about copyrights, sources, links, etc.

The Author Chapter One, "The One to Get Away"
Chapter Two, "New Year's Pig" Chapter Three, "Jesus is Lord Used Tires"
Chapter Four, "Tug Fork Water" Chapter Five, "Harmonious Space"
Chapter Six, "Valentine's Day" Chapter Seven, "How They Eat in Heaven"
Chapter Eight, "The Miracle of Dog Doo Park" Chapter Nine, "Ismene"
Chapter Ten, "The Bean Trees" Chapter Eleven, "Dream Angels"
Chapter Twelve, "Into the Terrible Night" Chapter Thirteen, "Night-Blooming Cereus"
Chapter Fourteen, "Guardian Saints" Chapter Fifteen, "Lake O' the Cherokees"
Chapter Sixteen, "Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will" Chapter Seventeen, "Rhizobia"

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