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The Bean Trees: Metaphors and Similies

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver is a book rich in metaphors and similes. It is a story about a young girl who escapes her small town, where most young people drop out of school, and the girls get pregnant. For Missy, these are not options. She buys herself a car and heads out for maturing experiences. Her first decision is that since she is starting a new life, she needs a new name, so she calls herself "Taylor." As she is driving, she tells herself she will stop and live in the city in which her car breaks down. This doesn't happen because along the way, she picks up a passenger, a little Native American baby. Now she has herself and the baby to worry about. She stops in Arizona and loves it. So, she decides to stay. It is in this town, she discovers friendship, love, responsibility, maturity, and the true meaning of family.
The physical descriptions in the book, while at times, may seem over done, are truely what make the book a vivid, potent journey. Before Taylors journey begins, she is working in a hospital and one of the girls she went to school with, but got pregnant and married, is brought into the hospital covered in blood, and Missy says she was, "...like a butcher holding down a calf on its way to becoming a cut of meat" (10). She also witnesses a tire blowing up and says, "... Newt Hardbine's daddy flying up into the air, in slow motion, like a fish flinging sideways out of the water. And Newt laid out like a hooked bass" (15). Then when she gets to Arizona, she see rocks that were "...stacked on top of one another like piles of copulating potato bugs" (47). These are just a few of the similies that enrich the story. She also uses metaphors in abundance to create a picture.

She compares driving in traffic during a hail storm as ...moving about the speed of a government check" (49). Kingsolver uses metaphors to compare some of the characters' lives. Taylor says "...but I had to give her credit, considering that life had delivered Sandi a truckload of manure with no return address" (89). In comparing a park she loves to visit, Taylor says, "Constellations of gum-wrapper foil twinkled around the trash barrels" (148). The best description comes in the combination of metaphor...

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