The Bean Trees By Barbara Kingsolver Study Help Essay Questions

1. Analyze the "women's world" in which The Bean Trees takes place.

2. How do the characters in The Bean Trees demonstrate that the role of women in America in the twentieth century has changed?

3. List the social issues that Kingsolver presents in The Bean Trees and explain how these issues affect the lives of the novel's characters.

4. Explain how the struggles faced by the characters in the novel are inspiring.

5. How is Taylor Greer like Barbara Kingsolver?

6. How are the people in Taylor's life interdependent?

7. Why does Taylor participate in the Sanctuary movement?

8. Compare the adventurous character of Taylor to the character of Lou Ann, who is terrified of life.

9. Research the Cherokee Indian and Guatemalan peoples to learn more about the cultures Kingsolver refers to.

10. Discuss the ways in which Taylor is a heroic character.

11. One of the novel's themes is the importance of community. Why is community valued?

12. How is the link between rhizobia (the microscopic bugs that live in the roots of legumes, turning nitrogen gas into fertilizer and allowing the plants to thrive in poor soil) and wisteria vines ("bean trees") similar to the relationships that form between the women in the novel?

13. Kingsolver is a poet. Analyze selected passages of description as poetic prose, paying attention to such elements as metaphor, simile, and imagery.

14. Compare the settings of Pittman County, Kentucky, and Tucson, Arizona, as Kingsolver describes them. How do these descriptions portray the moods of these places?

15. How is language important in The Bean Trees?

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