Bean Trees Chapter 01

Chapter 1

  1. What accident happened to Newt’s Hardbine’s father?
  2. How does the accident affect the narrator?
  3. Who is the narrator’s father?
  4. What is the narrator’s given name and what is she called?
  5. What in particular does Missy avoid in her school?
  6. Who is Paul McCartney?
  7. How does Hughes Walter change Missy’s life?
  8. Why does Medgar Biddle say Missy “dressed like an eye test”?
  9. What is Missy’s mother’s husband’s name?
  10. What does Missy’s mother mean when she says, “The only difference between one that stands up good and one that blows over is what kind of stick they’re stuck up there on”?
  11. What lesson does Missy learn after she asks Mr. Walter for the hospital job?
  12. What does Missy’s conversation with Jolene reveal?
  13. How tough is Missy? How do you know?
  14. What two things does Missy respect about her mother?
  15. How long does Missy work at the hospital?
  16. Whom does Missy date and why is he considered a “high-class catch”?
  17. What does Missy do with the money she initially saves from her job?
  18. In what state does Missy grow up?
  19. What is Missy’s plan?
  20. What is the first promise to herself that Missy keeps when she leaves Pittman County?
  21. What is the second promise she makes but which she breaks?
  22. Where does her car give out?
  23. What is ironic about her breaking down in the land of the Cherokee?
  24. What is given to Taylor?
  25. Why does Taylor decide to stay at the Broken Arrow Motor Lodge?
  26. What simile does Kingsolver use to describe the way the child clings to Taylor?
  27. When Taylor takes off the child’s clothes, what does she find?

New Characters

  • the narrator, Missy, Miss Marietta Greer, Taylor Greer
  • Mama (Alice Greer)
  • Newt Harbine
  • Newt Harbine’s father
  • Norman Strick
  • Jolene Shanks Hardbine
  • Mr. Hughes Walter
  • Lynda Walter
  • Earl Wickentot
  • Medgar Biddle
  • Foster Greer
  • Foster Greer’s mother
  • Henry Biddle
  • Eddie Rickett
  • Doc Finchler
  • Nurse MacCullers
  • Sparky Pike
  • Bob Two Two
  • Taylor’s great-grandpa on her mother’s side
  • Earl
  • Mrs. Hoge (the lady at the Broken Arrow Moter Lodge)
  • Turtle (the Indian child)

The Setting: Imaginary Places

  • Pittman County
  • Greenup Road or Steam-It-Up Road
  • Pittman County Hospital
  • the Mustang Motel
  • the Broken Arrow Motor Lodge
  • Floyd’s Mill Road

Cultural and Historical Allusions

  • Paul McCartney
  • candy stripers
  • Stephen Foster
  • “My Old Kentucky Home”
  • Bobbie Brooks
  • Old Grand Dad
  • the Jackson Purchase
  • ’55 Volkswagen bug
  • Budweiser
  • Plymouth
  • rocker arm
  • silo
  • Polaroid memory
  • the Cherokee Tribe
  • the Cherokee Nation
  • the Trail of Tears
  • “head rights”
  • Oral Roberts University
  • Kenny Rogers
  • “A Rose for Emily”
  • Psycho
  • Norman Bates

Natural and Geographic Allusions

  • lunker
  • Jesus bugs
  • peas
  • marigolds
  • Hot Tamale cosmos
  • platelets
  • potato bugs
  • Homer, Illinois
  • Sidney
  • Sadorus
  • Cerro Gordo
  • Decatur
  • Blue Mound
  • Taylorville
  • Cincinnati
  • Tennesse, “the Volunteer State”
  • Missouri, “the Show-Me State”
  • Great Plain
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Pioneer Woman Museum
  • Ponca City
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • St. Louis Gateway Arch
  • a blue moon
  • mud turtle
  • Kentucky Lake

Great Quotes

  • “Mama always said barefoot and pregnant was not my style.” (3)
  • “I had decided early on that if I couldn’t dress elegant, I’d dress memorable.” (5)
  • “‘[A] person isn’t nothing more than a scarecrow. You, me, Earl Wickentot, the President of the United States, and even God Almighty, as far as I can see. The only difference between one that stands up good and one that blows over is what kind of stick they’re stuck up there on.'”(5)
  • “These orderlies came in from the emergency room yelling for Eddie to get ready for a mess in x-ray.”
  • “‘[M]y daddy’d been calling me a slut practically since I was thirteen . . .'” (9)
  • “There were two things about Mama. One is she always expected the best out of me. And the other is that then no matter what I did, whatever I came home with, she acted like it was the moon I had just hung up in the sky and plugged in all the stars. Like I was that good.” (10)
  • “The most amazing thing was the way that child held on. From the first moment I picked it up out of its nest of wet blanket, it attached itself to me by its little hands like roots sucking on dry dirt. I think it would have been easier to separate me from my hair.”(22)
  • “It looked like carrying blood and pee was to be my lot in life.” (22)

Essay Topics

  1. Write a complex comparison/contrast of the parents and children in the chapter. Consider the role of encouragement, violence, education, social opportunities, and social expectations in leading to the “success” or “failure” of particular characters. You will need to define what you mean by “success” in life. Note the key differences in ways characters judge success and how this also contributes to how they judge themselves and their roles in the community.
  2. Use the chapter to make an argument about whether or not people are able to overcome or not the social circumstances they are born into and the way they are raised, educated, and treated.
  3. Discuss the use of symbols in the chapter and how they introduce and reinforce the themes.
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