The Bean Trees

by: Barbara Kingsolver

Turtle

Characters Turtle

A history of abuse makes Turtle silent for much of the novel. She seems almost catatonic, anxious to remain unnoticed and therefore unmolested. However, as the novel progresses and Turtle begins to trust that Taylor will take good care of her, the three-year-old girl becomes increasingly talkative and charming. She begins to preface friends’ names with the word Ma: Lou Ann becomes Ma Woo-Ahn, for example. She demonstrates a connection with the earth, taking great pleasure in naming vegetables and playing with seeds or dirt. Her made-up songs concern vegetables, and her preferred bedtime story is the seed catalogue. This love of the land links her, Kingsolver suggests, to her Native American heritage.