The Bean Trees
"New Year's Pig"
Visitors Since 8/10/99
Some Opening Comments and Ideas to Reflect on about Chapter 2
1. There is a shift in narrative voice. This chapter is now in the third-person, not the first-person. The characters are all different. This may seem initially upsetting or confusing, but I recommend you try to think of the book like a fun puzzle. These stories are being contrasted for a reason. How are the two women, Taylor and Lou Ann, different? How are they similar? What can you predict for the future of the book? Will these two women meet? How? When?
2. Angel Ruiz is one of the rather complex male figures we meet in the novel. There are clues he has a history of substance abuse problems--(1) his nickname "Dusty" from the PCP or "Angel Dust" drugs he was involved with in his rodeo days and (2) his obvious drinking problem that led to his DUI accident and amputated leg. On the other hand, his mother-in-law is racist, which makes us feel sympathetic towards him. Also Ruiz's false leg jingles--and although the narrator and Lou Ann do not mention it, adjusting such false limbs can cost a great deal of money per visit and involve lots of paperwork. Angel's pride as the male breadwinner has been undermined. Still Ruiz abandons his pregnant wife and future child with no effort to provide child support. His behavior can be compared to the other fathers and husbands who have abandoned or abused their children in the novel so far--consider Newt Hardbine's father, Foster Greer, the man with Turtle, and Joline's dad for example.
3. The title of the chapter is a clue to a main theme of this chapter--the way some cultures are hostile to women. How is the Chinese culture hostile to women? How do some women themselves perpetuate cultural oppression of themselves? Consider Lee Sing, the women who work at Fanny Heaven, and Mrs.Logan. Discuss the sexual harassment that Lou Ann deals with on the bus when not pregnant. What does this say about her as a person? What kind of people try to sexually fondle a woman on a bus? Why can't Lou Ann defend herself from these people?
4. Notice also how both Lou Ann and her brother married people of other races despite their racist mother. If Lou Ann is treated badly for having married a Hispanic man, her mother feels her brother's wife, an Eskimo, is more animal than human. How does race compound the problem of sexism?
Image courtesy of Trina Walker of Shopcat.com
Page numbers from the large-sized paperback edition
|The Author||Chapter One, "The One to Get Away"|
|Chapter Two, "New Year's Pig"||Chapter Three, "Jesus is Lord Used Tires"|
|Chapter Four, "Tug Fork Water"||Chapter Five, "Harmonious Space"|
|Chapter Six, "Valentine's Day"||Chapter Seven, "How They Eat in Heaven"|
|Chapter Eight, "The Miracle of Dog Doo Park"||Chapter Nine, "Ismene"|
|Chapter Ten, "The Bean Trees"||Chapter Eleven, "Dream Angels"|
|Chapter Twelve, "Into the Terrible Night"||Chapter Thirteen, "Night-Blooming Cereus"|
|Chapter Fourteen, "Guardian Saints"||Chapter Fifteen, "Lake O' the Cherokees"|
|Chapter Sixteen, "Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will"||Chapter Seventeen, "Rhizobia"|