Symbolism In The Bean Trees

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Symbolism:
In the novel The Bean Trees, Kingsolver uses wisteria vines and their bean pods to symbolize the potential for abused women to recover from their scarring experiences when given enough care and support. Kingsolver writes:

‘It’s like this,’ I [Taylor] told Turtle. ‘There’s a whole invisible system for helping out the plant that you’d never guess was there.’ I loved this idea. ‘It’s just the same as with people. The way Edna has Virgie, Virgie has Edna and Sandi has Kid Central Station, and everybody has Mattie. And on and on.’ The wisteria vines on their own would just barely get by, is how I explained it to Turtle, but put them together with rhizobia and they make miracles. (Kingsolver 305)

As explained in the novel, wisteria vines survive in poor soil due to the symbiotic relationship with rhizobia, or microscopic bugs. Similarly, Turtle, represented by the seeds of the vine, could not survive her childhood as a young, abused female. She was a dried-out, helpless bean. However, as Taylor entered her life, Turtle began to find hope and a chance of renewal. Taylor, symbolized by the rhizobia, compassionately cared for Turtle as the young girl overcame her difficult past and
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Tears streamed down the shallow creases in her cheeks. The rest of us watched. Mr. Armistead stopped fidgeting and Mrs. Cleary’s hands on her papers went still. Here were a mother and her daughter, nothing less. A mother and a child- in a world that could be barely bothered with mothers and children- who were going to be taken apart. Everybody believed it. Possibly Turtle believed it. I did. Of all the many times when it seemed to be so, that was the only moment in which I came close to losing Turtle. I couldn’t have taken her from Esperanza. If she asked, I couldn’t have said no. (Kingsolver

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