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The Bean Trees

Barbara Kingsolver
Summary Chapters Fourteen–Fifteen
Summary Chapters Fourteen–Fifteen

The St. Christopher medallion, which symbolizes hope for refugees, provides a small link between Taylor and Esperanza and Estevan. Taylor muses that the saint looks like Stephen Foster, the man who wrote the Kentucky state song, an association that suggests Taylor’s identification as a refugee. Just as Esperanza has St. Christopher, Taylor has Stephen Foster. Although her separation from home was neither forced nor severely disruptive, she nevertheless feels that she does not truly belong anywhere. She did not belong in Kentucky, and Arizona seems to be a temporary home. Everyone begins to feel more at home upon reaching the Cherokee Nation. Estevan and Esperanza feel relief at finding a place where people look like them, and Taylor seems to agree with the girl in the bar who defines the Cherokee Nation as a people, not a place. Taylor’s home has more to do with her daughter than with geography.

Turtle symbolically buries her past life when she buries her doll. Kingsolver implies that the circumstances surrounding Turtle’s mother’s death and burial were terrifying, and here Turtle reenacts the scene not with a feeling of terror, but one of calm control. She feels herself safe with Taylor, and she orchestrates a peaceful burial for her doll, a stand-in for her mother. This cathartic burial, possible only in Turtle’s homeland, suggests that she now belongs more fully to Taylor.