Jolie SimpsonJanuary 17, 2018Period 4The Bean Trees Essay The necessity of generosity and compassion in society is a prevalent theme in the novel The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. The characters are only able to thrive once they are shown the empathy of others towards themselves. As generosity is displayed towards and from the individuals, they flourish in character growth and life. Kingsolver’s use of this theme is to emphasize how it is also present in reality; humans cannot thrive without generosity and empathy. When Turtle first enters Taylor’s life, it is apparent that the small child has been detrimentally deprived of kindness and love; however, under the generous, motherly care of Taylor, Turtle is able to learn to thrive for the first time in her life. Five months into their time together, Taylor takes Turtle to the doctor’s for a health check where in he informs them about Turtle’s past traumas and stunted growth. He explains the situation by saying, “‘It’s a condition we call failure to thrive.'” Taylor interrupts, “‘But she’s thriving now. I ought to know, I buy her clothes.'” This explanation relates directly to the theme of how humanity requires generosity to survive. Before Turtle was with Taylor, she wasn’t really living – she was simply existing. Her traumas and the absence of love in her life caused her growth to stunt not just physically. Once introduced to a life a safety and kindness, Turtle has time to heal and begin to thrive. As with the necessities of food, water, shelter, Turtle represents how humans also must fulfill the need to feel companionship and love. Had it not been for Taylor to supply these things for Turtle, the child would have never fully healed. Evidence of the importance of Taylor and all of her other adopted family to Turtle is shown in the very end of the novel. As the two of them are driving back to Tucson, it says, “She watched the dark highway and entertained me with her vegetable soup song, except that now there were people mixed in with the beans and potatoes: Dwayne Ray, Mattie, Esperanza, Lou Ann and all the rest. And me. I was the main ingredient.” The people featured in Turtle’s vegetable soup song are all the ones who have loved her and helped her in her journey to being whole again. Without them, there would be no cheerful Turtle, and there would be no vegetable soup song. Each person gifted her with their empathy and compassion which was key in her healing from her time with those who abused her. In turn, Turtle unknowingly gave the joys of motherhood to Taylor and all the other ‘ma’s’ in her life. Generosity and empathy traded between people is what gives life purpose and meaning, and a life with these things makes all the difference in one’s ability to thrive. This is true in The Bean Trees, for Turtle, and this is true in reality, for everyone. Most of Mattie’s life has been centered around making sacrifices and creating sanctuaries for those in need. She is a beacon of generosity to all the in the novel.