Barbara Kingsolver's
The Bean Trees

The Chaffey College Book 1999
"Night-Blooming Cereus"

Visitors Since 8/10/99
Last Update
Night-blooming cereus
Night-blooming cereus (in bloom)

Night-blooming cereus
Night-blooming cereus (not in bloom)


Cover of Silas Marner
Silas Marner front cover

Symbols in the Chapter
  • Turtle buries the anatomical rag dolls (p. 172)
  • Cynthia's (real, not plastic) cameo pin (pp. 174, 180-1)
  • Bonita Jankenhorn (p. 175-6)
  • The Pittman County woman who reads tea leaves and bones (pp. 177-8)
  • Jewel's son with dyslexia (p. 181)
  • Lou Ann reads Daughter of the Cheyenne Winds (pp. 181, 182)
  • Aztec Man (Popocatepetl) carrying the passed out (dead) woman (Iztaccihuatl) (p. 182)
  • The night-blooming Cereus (pp. 185-7)
  • The dead blackbird (p. 189)
Themes in the Chapter
  • Sadness vs. depression
  • What is the proper role of a therapist?
  • Child abuse is bad and common
  • Helping immigrants versus obeying government law
  • The law of children's services vs. what is good for the child
  • Orphanages vs. adoption
  • Behavior, action, confidence vs. inaction, low self-esteem
  • The failure of systems, such as schools, government, etc.
  • Making life heaven by helping each other vs. making life hell
  • What is a good mother?
New Characters
  • the social worker, Cynthia
  • Bonita Jankenhorn
  • Miss Myers
  • Mr. Jonas Wilford Armistead
Cultural and Historical Allusions
  • child protection services
  • ward of the state
  • adoption
  • cameo
  • Silas Marner
  • Lincoln
  • gristle

Last checked 5/1/00
Cameo Collection

Medical, Natural, and Geographic Allusions
  • night-blooming cereus
  • depression
  • strawberry blonde
  • dyslexia
  • lionness
  • blackbird

Last checked 5/1/00
Arid Plants (Cereus)
Epiphyllum (Night-blooming Cereus)

Great Quotes
Page numbers from the large-sized paperback edition
  • "There is no point in treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, There now, hang on, you'll get over it. Sadness is more or less like a head cold--with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer." (173)
  • "I watched Turtle roll from her side to her stomach and back again. Her eyes rolled back and forth under her eyelids, and sometimes her mouth worked too. Whoever she was talking to in her dream, she told them a lot more than she'd ever told me. I would have paid good money to be in that dream." (182)
  • "The petals stood out in starry rays, and in the center of each flower there was a complicated construction of silvery threads shaped like a pair of cupped hands catching moonlight. A fairy boat, ready to be launched into the darkness." (186)

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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