Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees — Is Taylor Greer fit to raise Turtle? Rate scenarios

Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees -- Is Taylor Greer fit to raise Turtle? Rate scenarios



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Is Taylor fit to raise Turtle? What kind of mother is Taylor?

Readers cheer when Taylor wins custody of Turtle via illegal means. But is Taylor best for Turtle? Would it be so bad if Turtle had a chance to be adopted by a married couple who live in a safe neighborhood?

Below are reminders of Taylor in action. For each incident, rate her. Use a scale of 1 to 10. One means no big deal; 10 means rotten mothering skills.

1) Taylor asks Mattie if Turtle can stay in the car when the car is raised for tire inspection–“ride up on the jack” (page 54 of paperback edition). Rate her mothering skills here. One is minor (no big deal). 10 means horrible mothering skills, highly objectionable.

Circle a number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

2) Mattie–not Taylor–thinks to give Turtle apple juice, and Taylor is surprised when Mattie says kids can dehydrate (page 60). Write a number _________________

3) When working at Burger Derby, Taylor drops off Turtle at Kid Central Station: “They’ve got a jillion kids crawling all over the place. How are they going to know if somebody’s really one of ‘em’s mother?” (page 69). Write a number _________________

4) Taylor lasts only 6 days at Burger Derby–admits to having an attitude problem, throws a tantrum, throws her hat into the Mighty Miser–yet she has no money (not enough to repair flat tires!) and has a child to support. Page 90. Write a number _________________

5) The one father figure that Turtle knows while living with Taylor is Estevan–a married man that Taylor loves (she wants to bury her face in his chest). Taylor compares men to a “flapper ball.” Men are not needed! Turtle may have no FATHER figure. Write a number _________________

6) Taylor sleeps with Estevan on the couch–something her daughter can see. Page 188. Write a number _________________

7) Taylor has a blind woman babysit Turtle. A pervert sees this as an opportunity to attack Turtle in the park. Write a number _________________

8) When Taylor learns that Turtle was attacked, Taylor fails to comfort the child–no hug, no soothing words. Instead she chases a bird out of the house. Lou Ann criticizes Taylor for this. Write a number _______

9) Taylor risks imprisonment. Who will take care of Turtle if Taylor is in prison? Taylor doesn’t think of that or prepare for that. Write a number _________________

10) Taylor drives Turtle around in a car that lacks not only seat belts but back seats! So when Estevan slams on brakes, Turtle goes flying, doing a somersault in the car! Write a number _____________

11) On page 192, Taylor considers putting Turtle’s bed “out there on the porch.” Lou Ann says that isn’t safe.

12) The first “home” Taylor provides for Turtle (before they meet Lou Ann) is Tucson’s Hotel Republic. Prostitutes come out at night. One is named Cheryl (page 49).

Wise to raise a child in such a place? What number?

EXTRA: When Taylor commits felonies (transporting illegal immigrants, signing a document full of lies), the child is present. The child is present when Taylor lies to the Border Patrol (“All US citizens?” “Yes…this is my brother Steve, and my sister-in-law”). Write a number _________________

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