Bean Trees Chapter 13

Chapter 13

  1. Does Turtle recover from her assault?
  2. Who is Cynthia?
  3. Why does Taylor now feel that her advice to Esperanza was ridiculous?
  4. What other bad news deeply disturbs Taylor?
  5. Who or what could make a legal claim to Turtle?
  6. How does Lou Ann react to this news?
  7. What conclusion does Taylor come to when she recalls the woman who made a fortune reading tea leaves and chicken bones?
  8. According to Mattie, what is the right question for Taylor to ask herself?
  9. What does Taylor need to make a claim for Turtle?
  10. What plan does Taylor make regarding Turtle?
  11. Is Mattie pleased that Taylor wants to help Estevan and Esperanza?
  12. What is special about the night-blooming cereus?
  13. Who first notices the cereus is blooming?

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

Medical, Natural, and Geographic Allusions

  • night-blooming cereus
  • depression
  • strawberry blonde
  • dyslexia
  • lionness
  • blackbird

Great Quotes

  • “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)
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