The Bean Trees

by: Barbara Kingsolver

Lou Ann

Lou Ann is soft, motherly, and worrisome; she fears her own death and the death of her child. Far more womanly in a traditional sense than Taylor is, she pines for her husband and expresses her conviction that marriages and love should last forever. A Kentuckian, she retains the innocence of a small-town girl. Despite this innocence and occasional spates of homesickness, Lou Ann demonstrates her grit by moving to Tucson and then staying there alone to raise a child over the objections of her female relatives. She and Taylor form a functional family, caring for their children and for each other.

Lou Ann undergoes a transformation from dependent housewife into strong single mother. She has feminist instincts from the beginning of the novel, but initially she does not express them. She remains silent even though the sight of the local strip joint makes her shudder; she notices that her house feels more whole with her female relatives present than with her husband; she reflects on the strength of her body during her pregnancy. Around Chapter Ten, Lou Ann changes. She begins to speak about the contradictions and injustices of gender relations. She tells Taylor that she despises the obscene painting on the door of the strip joint. She searches for a job and accepts that she will have to support herself. She acts more boldly, scolding Taylor when Taylor does not fight hard for her rights.