Lou Ann's Transformation: A Literary Analysis

Reads: 1000  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Analytical essay on the character Lou Ann from the book The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Submitted: November 04, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 04, 2015

A A A

A A A


Lou Ann’s Transformation: A Literary Analysis

By Caleb Ireland

Why is too much worrying bad? Worrying is like riding on a rocking horse instead of a real horse. Riding a rocking horse gives the rider something to do, but it does not get them anywhere. Too much worrying makes one think about what scares them, but usually does not help one to be strong and fix what is making them worry. In the novel The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, the character Lou Ann undergoes a major transformation from an anxious and dependent housewife and worrying single mother to a strong motherly figure who cares for other characters, not only her own infant son.

Lou Ann starts out in the novel as a dependent housewife who is anxious about the possibility that her husband, a man named Angel, will leave her. She also has made herself believe that he is a perfectly good person but comes to realize that he is not a good person after all. When Lou Ann’s storyline in the novel starts she suspects he will want to divorce her, but deep down she is too worried to do anything about it: “...she didn’t particularly do anything about it. That was Lou Ann’s method. She expected that a divorce would just develop, like a pregnancy—that eventually they would reach some kind of agreement without having to discuss it.” (Kingsolver, page 34) Lou Ann did not let herself see the true nature of Angel when they first met because when he ends up leaving her without saying anything she notices a pattern to the items he takes from the house. “In a strange way she was fascinated to see what he had claimed for his own. It revealed more to her about his personality, she thought, than she had learned during their whole marriage.” (Kingsolver, page 44) Angel takes three beer mugs, a picture of himself, the only tube of toothpaste, and the TV. This makes Lou Ann realize how selfish her now ex-husband is. If she had not worried so much about the possibility that he was going to divorce her, she would have seen how he really just cared about himself and that he would probably just leave without telling her, which at the end of the chapter it turns out he does. Angel selfishly leaves Lou Ann soon before she will become the mother of their baby, making her a single mother.

With her husband gone and her baby named Dwayne Ray born, Lou Ann has become a worrying single mother. She reads many magazines to learn helpful information and ends up believing everything the authors suggest and uses some of that information to add to her fretting and worrying. Lou Ann decides to rent part of her house out to someone since Angel is gone. The main character in The Bean Trees, named Taylor Greer, sees Lou Ann’s add and ends up moving in. Lou Ann likes Taylor’s young spirited and strong personality. Even so, Lou Ann remains very anxious about things for the time being, especially people’s safety after all the dangers she read and is reading about. When Taylor and one of their new friends named Estevan want to go swimming near where they and a lot of the characters had a picnic Lou Ann says worriedly, “...you’re not supposed to go in for an hour after you eat. You’ll drown, both of you. It’s something about the food in your stomach makes you sink.” (Kingsolver, page 126) Lou Ann, being the anxious single mother that she is right now in the novel, read that somewhere and now totally believes it and adds it to everything else she frets and worries about. Later on in the book Taylor is trying to get Lou Ann’s mind off worrying about everything by telling her to get a job. Taylor says to her,“ ‘I guess  you’ll have to find a job, sooner or later.’ Lou Ann started sobbing again. ‘Who would want to hire me? I can’t do anything.’ ” (Kingsolver, page 169) At first Lou Ann feels worried and does not have enough self-confidence to let herself apply for a job. As a single mother she is too worried about what will happen to her son if she is not around him. Taylor finally convinces her to get a job which is a key starting point in Lou Ann’s transformation.

Taylor’s young, lively energy and strong character starts to rub off on Lou Ann. When Lou Ann gets a job at Red Hot Mama’s, a salsa factory, combined with Taylor’s character starting to rub off on her, Lou Ann begins to transform from the fretting single mother she was to a strong motherly figure. Taylor notices this, “In the few weeks since she’d started working, she had begun to cut her hair less often and finally stopped comparing her figure to various farm animals. Having a job of her own seemed to even out some of Lou Ann’s wrinkled edges.” (Kingsolver, page 205) Lou Ann fully shows how much she has transformed when Turtle, the infant girl that was given to Taylor to take care of at the beginning of the book, gets attacked by a mysterious person which terrifies Taylor because she considers Turtle her own daughter who she is responsible for. Lou Ann steps up and comforts Taylor multiple times and gives her a lot of wise advice like, “ ‘I just don’t think you’re going to change anything with your own personal hunger strike.’ ” (Kingsolver, page 229) When the government wants to take Turtle away from Taylor since Taylor is not Turtle’s legal guardian, Lou Ann does not worry and instead urges Taylor to be strong and stand up to them, “ ‘Who in the hell do these people think they are? That they have the right to take her out of a perfectly good home…there’s got to be some way around them taking her, and you’re not even trying to think of it.’ ” (Kingsolver, pages 234-235) Lou Ann has now become a strong and wise mother figure to Taylor and Turtle, supporting them when they encounter their own worries and troubles.

In the novel The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, the character Lou Ann started out as an anxious and dependent housewife who became a worrying single mother when her selfish husband left. When Taylor and Turtle move in with Lou Ann and Lou Ann gets a job, it leads Lou Ann to start a major transformation into a strong mother figure who cares for more characters than just her own son. Some worrying is healthy for people, but too much worrying creates an negative spiral for them because, like with Lou Ann in the beginning of the novel, it makes people just think about what is troubling them instead of standing up to those dangers or troubles in their lives. Riding a rocking horse is nice and safe, but it does not get the rider anywhere. Sometimes in life, like with Lou Ann, it is necessary to ride the real horse of life to make a transformation happen.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2020 IrelandCS. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments: