Barbara Kingsolver's
The Bean Trees

"Tug Fork Water"

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Ideas to Reflect on When Reading Chapter 4

1. Consider the power relationships between the generations of women in Lou Ann's family. The text specifically mentions "the power of mothers and grandmothers" (54). What is this power? Is it healthy or not? How does the irrationality and racisim of Granny Logan affect your judgement of this power?

2. The marriage of Lou Ann is clearly a problem here. Why does she try to hide this from her family? Why can she tell Bobby Bingo about her problems but not her own family? What do Bobby Bingo and Lou Ann share in common? Think about how conditional the love of Bingo's son is--he supposedly loves his dad, but yet his actions and words hurt his father. How do they differ in values? How is this situation parallel to Lou Ann's? What is the meaning of his warning, "`Whatever you want the most, it's going to be the worst thing for you'"? Do you agree with this view? Why or why not? Is it too pessimistic? What is the cost of loving someone whose values you despise?

3. Consider the symbolism of baptism and the jar of water for the baptism. What does Angel do with the water? What is the symbolism of the water's fate? What is important about Lou Ann's memories of her own baptism? What does Lou Ann's inability to feel her childhood feelings imply or suggest?

4. The last five paragraphs of this chapter indicate a future direction for Lou Ann and her relationships to Angel and Dwayne Ray. What do these paragraphs imply about the future relationship of Lou Ann and Angel? of Lou Ann and Dwayne Ray? What is Kingsolver trying to tell us about family and marital relationships?

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New Characters

  • Ivy Logan
  • Dwayne Ray Ruiz
  • Bobby Bingo
  • Bill Bing
  • Manny Quiroz
The Setting: Imaginary Places
  • Burger Derby
  • Hotel Republic
  • Kid Central Station
Idioms, Slang, and Difficult Words
Cultural and Historical Allusions
Medical, Natural, and Geographic Allusions
Great Quotes
Page numbers from the large-sized paperback edition
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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