Barbara Kingsolver's
The Bean Trees

The Chaffey College Book 1999
"Guardian Saints"

Visitors Since 8/10/99
Last Update

quetzal picture
Quetzal Bird Picture
copyright, Robert Hole, Jr.

quetzal photo
Photo of Quetzal Bird

New Characters
  • Boyd
  • the girl at the bar
Discussion Questions
  • How are the allegator ("symbol" of Americans) and the quetzal (symbol of Mayans) different? What is Kingsolver saying about the American and Mayan cultures?
  • How does the chapter's theme of "What is a home?" relate to Taylor, Turtle, Estevan, and Esperanza?
  • What is the symbolism of the word "Repent" carved on the sign about the volcano at Texas Canyon?
  • What is the symbolism of the Texas landscape looking like a place left unfinished when God went on strike?
  • Why is St. Christopher, the saint of refugees, mentioned in the book? How is St. Christopher related to the discussion of oppressed Indians?
  • What is the significance and role of Shirley Poppy?
  • What theme is suggested by the changes to Irene Hoge?
  • What has changed at the place Taylor was given Turtle? What is the significance of these changes?
  • How does Taylor's opinion of the Cherokee Nation change?
  • What is the role of the Cherokee Nation in the book?
Cultural and Historical Allusions
  • Izod shirts (alligator logo)
  • Mayan
  • St. Christopher (saint of refugees)
  • Mayflower
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Magnum P.I.
Medical, Natural, and Geographic Allusions
  • quetzal bird
  • flatlands
  • Texas Panhandle
  • Parkenson's
  • Ozark Mountains
  • Lake O' the Cherokees
  • Oologah Lake
  • snipe

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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