Barbara Kingsolver's
The Bean Trees

The Chaffey College Book 1999
"How They Eat in Heaven"

Visitors Since 8/10/99
Last Update

picture of women in tube top
Tube Top

picture of Russian Matroyoshka dolls
Russian Matroyoshka dolls

picture of Captain Kirk
Captain Kirk

picture of Mowhawk hair style
Mowhawk hair style

picture of Dorothy Hamill
Dorothy Hamill

picture of Cottonwood tree
Cottonwood tree

picture of yak

Discussion Questions
  • What is the significance of the group going to Lou Ann's "special" place in the desert?
  • Why didn't Lou Ann and Angel get married there?
  • Why is Esperanza obsessed with Turtle?
  • What is wrong with Esperanza? How is she like Turtle and Snowboots?
  • What is the symbolism of the quails?
  • What is the symbolism of Turtle's first sound? Her first word?
  • What is the symbolism of Lou Ann's hair cutting?
  • What do we learn about Lou Ann's self-esteem?
  • What signs do we have of Lou Ann and Taylor's friendship growing?
  • What's weird about Edna Poppy?
  • What is Mrs. Parsons like?
  • What is Estevan like?
  • Why is Mattie on TV?
  • Why do you think Mattie's words are partially talked over?
  • What is the story Estevan tells? How is it significant?
  • Do you think this story's meaning is the essential message of the book? Why or why not?
New Characters
  • Esperanza, Hope
  • Estevan, Steven
  • Edna Poppy
  • Mrs. Virgie Mae Parsons
Idioms, Slang, and Difficult Words
  • discombobble
  • plumb
  • blowsy
  • pruneface
  • gypped
  • picayune
  • blanched
Cultural and Historical Allusions
  • People Magazine
  • tom boy
  • Tube top
  • Sherman tank
  • Guatemalan embroidery
  • Russian Matryoshka dolls
  • Mohawk haircut
  • Navy-Bean soup
  • Hungarian goulash
  • "Blue Bayou"
  • Star Trek
  • Captain Kirk
  • shingled hair cut
  • Dorothy Hamill hair cut
  • wok
  • cheongsam, qipao, or banner dress
Related Links
Last Verified 8/12/99

People Magazine
Sherman tank
Sherman tank
Captain Kirk
Captain Kirk
Dorothy Hamill
Matroyoshka Dolls

Medical, Natural, and Geographic Allusions
  • Guatemala City
  • rutabaga
  • yak
  • lizards
  • desert canyons
  • desert streams
  • Cottonwood trees
  • Mesquite trees
  • quails
  • hypochondriac
  • Sciatica
  • Roseola
  • hives
  • Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Acarophobia, fear of itching or of the insects that cause itching
  • Acerophobia, fear of sourness
  • Acrophobia, fear of heights
  • stretch marks
  • douches
Great Quotes
Page numbers from the large-sized paperback edition
  • "It was a sweet sight. With the cottonwood shade rippling over them they looked like a drawing from one of those old-fashioned children's books that show babies in underwater scenes, blowing glassy bubbles and holding on to fishes' tails." (94-5)
  • "Turtle always had desperate, active dreams. In sleep, it seemed, she was free to do all the things that during her waking life she could only watch." (95)
  • "'I ought to be shot for looking like this,' she'd tell the mirror in the front hall before going out the door. 'I look like I've been drug through hell backwards,' she would say on just any ordinary day. 'Like death warmed over. Like something the cat puked up.'" (99)
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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