Bildungsroman In Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees

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In Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Bean Trees, Taylor Greer tries to escape turning out like everyone else in Pittman County; she has dreams of becoming something besides a teenage bride or a high school drop out. The Bean Trees, a perfect representation of an authentic Bildungsroman, portrays someone who undergoes a life altering change, which will in turn send them on their way to becoming a full fledged adult. Karl Morgenstern coined the word “Bildungsroman”, which means novel of formation in German. A Bildungsroman novel usually has four stages. For example, loss can be used as one way to open protagonist’s eyes to the world beyond their hometown. However, in a Bildungsroman, the general goal is always maturity, and the protagonist achieves…show more content…
Taylor’s search for identity and gaining of a mentor reveal she is a Bildungsroman character who learns that she needs others in order to thrive. Her struggle to seek out her independence is evident in the beginning of the book and her will to escape the predetermined destiny of almost everyone in her hometown is overwhelming. She begins to grasp at the idea of being unique and independent when she says that, “If I wanted a baby I would have stayed in Kentucky, I informed her”(Kingsolver 18). A large majority of the population in Taylor’s small community has chosen to stay and be surrounded by what they have always known, but Taylor resembles a fledgling bird that wants to spread her wings and fly. In the beginning of the book, Taylor has no intention of being attached to something or someone, unless absolutely necessary because Taylor knows she has not come to the right stage in her education or maturity to take on such a huge project. Her mentor, Mattie, also helps her become the young woman people are able to identify at the end of the book by teaching her to help her friends when they are in need. Taylor suddenly realizes that she must take action if she wants…show more content…
However, she understands that she must use the resources around her in order to become a new character with a future that does not include marrying a boy and staying in Pittman County for the remainder of her days. She becomes acutely aware of her surroundings and in the process she matures. She and her friends encounter many symbiotic relationships, which helps them realize just how important their friends are to them. Virgie Mae Parsons provides the blind Edna Poppy with guidance and help, while Edna Poppy serves as a buffer against Virgie Mae's often-caustic demeanor. Lou Ann provides Taylor with a perspective on her abilities, while Taylor calms Lou Ann's neuroses and instills her with a sense of confidence. Also, Estevan and Esperanza draw strength from one another and seem unable to function independently, having gone through so much in Guatemala. The effect of these symbiotic relationships helps instill a sense of community by constructing a lattice of necessity and fulfillment among many characters, who assist and encourage one another. Similarly, the way the shrimp builds and maintains a burrow that both animals live in, and the Goby fish offer the shrimp protection from predators. All these relationships suggest that this group of mammals who

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