Bean Trees Chapter 02

Chapter 2

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?
Review Questions
  1. What narrative point of view is used in Chapter One? Chapter Two?
  2. Where is Lou Ann Ruiz from and whom did she marry?
  3. On what day does Angel leave Lou Ann? On what day did he have his accident?
  4. What is Lou Ann’s method of dealing with issues?
  5. What simile does Lou Ann use to describe herself during arguments with Angel?
  6. What is the name of Lou Ann’s cat?
  7. What does Lou Ann’s mother think of Angel?
  8. What are some of the advantages of being pregnant, according to Lou Ann?
  9. What two establishments are oddly juxtaposed?
  10. What is Lee sing’s attitude to having a girl child?
  11. What reveals more to Lou Ann about Angel than all their years of marriage?

New Characters

  • Lou Ann Ruiz
  • Angel “Dusty” Ruiz
  • Lee Sing
  • Snowboots/Pachuco (the cat)
  • Dr. Pelinowsky
  • Mrs. Logan
  • Tania Maria, singer
  • Grandfather Ormsby
  • Lee Sing’s mother

The Setting: Imaginary Places and Bands

  • Three Bears Day School
  • Lee Sing’s Market
  • Audio Confusion (band)
  • Roosevelt Park
  • Jesus is Lord Used Tires
  • Fanny Heaven (porn shop/nightclub)

Cultural and Historical Allusions

  • Halloween
  • Christmas
  • Gumby
  • Jim Beam
  • Meat Puppets (band)
  • Gin rummy
  • Beefaroni
  • Mrs. Smith’s pound cake
  • Racism against Mexican-Americans or Hispanics
  • Catholic Baptism
  • Whittling with a jackknife
  • Bull-riding
  • Rodeo circuit
  • McCall’s
  • Black Angus Steak House
  • Around the World yoyo trick
  • Whitewalls
  • Firestones
  • Michelins
  • Yogurt
  • Macaroons
  • Eskimos
  • Frankenstein
  • Incredible Hulk
  • Mickey Mouse

Medical, Natural, and Geographic Allusions

Great Quotes

  • “In Tucson, she tried to explain to her mother, there were so many Mexicans that people didn’t think of them as a foreign race. They were doctors, bank clerks, TV personalities, and even owned hotels …. Mrs. Logan, who lived in eastern Kentucky and had never seen a Mexican, thought Lou Ann was making this up.” (27-8)
  • “‘Feeding a girl is like feeding the neighbor’s New Year pig. All that work. In the end, it goes to some other family.’” (31)
  • “In her other ear, pressed against the pillow, she could hear the blood pumping all the way down to her feet. It sounded something like the ocean, which she had seen once with Angel in Mexico. The baby nudged and poked at her with what felt like fingers, playing in waves of her blood, on the smooth, dark beach of her insides.” (33)