Each Readings Syllabus:

This page includes the syllabus from each day's reading:
Syllabus for Chapters 1,2,3 Sabrina
Syllabus: The Bean Trees Book Club, Day 1
April 30, 2009

Book Club Members: Sabrina, Rose, Olivia, Kate, Emily, Karly

Today’s Focus Question: What holds female characters back from success, and ultimately how does and will this pre-determined future affect Missie/Taylor?

Opening Focus Activity (10-15 minutes):

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." –William Shakespeare

* Research the meanings of the names Missy and Taylor (5 min)
* Discuss possible intentions the author had for changing from a feministic name to a more masculine name (relate this back to female characters lack of success)

Club Discussion Questions (20-30 minutes):
  1. Missy claims that she wasn’t aware of her future until she thought about Newts future; does an event always have to occur to make one aware of their future?
  2. Names play a huge part in this book. What does Turtles name say about her and her fate?
  3. How does Missy’s mom’s expectations and support affect Missy and the decisions in her life?
  4. Both Missy’s mom and Mattie are independent women role models for Missy. Does this make it easier or harder for Missy to be and stay independent?
  5. What role does Lu Ann Angel play in the story? Does she represent a strong female character able to break the cycle of un-successful females or does she help support that view?
  6. Taylor drove away from her town in Kentucky to escape her preordained future as a teenage mother but on the road she is given Turtle. What does this tell you about the fate of women, how about Taylor as a female character?
  7. What events have happened so far to suggest Missy is a heroine and this story follows the pattern of a hero’s story?
  8. What do Missy and Lu Ann have in common? Does this make them weaker or stronger female characters?

Closing Activity/Extension (5-10 minutes):

Visit Sabrina’s Wikispace and take the survey listed under the section The Bean Trees. Once everyone has taken the survey we will discuss the results and how they relate back to focus question.

Syllabus for Chapters 4,5,6 (Emily):

Syllabus: The Bean Trees Book Club, Day 2
May 1, 2009

Book Club Members: Emily Jones, Sabrina Dermody, Rose Rapp, Kate Parra, Olivia K., Karly Hensley

Today’s Focus Question: What aspects cause Taylor’s character to develop and strengthen throughout chapters 4 through 6? In her eyes, who has the most positive influence on her life at this time; is it Mattie? Sandi? Lou Ann? Or even Turtle? – How do they manage to do this?

Opening Focus Activity (10-15 minutes):
Look at lyrics of “Be My Escape” and make and discuss connections to chapter’s 4-6.

Club Discussion Questions (20-30 minutes):
1. Why do you think Lou Ann tells the produce man about her ugly divorce and not her own mother or grandmother? Was it fear, embarrassment, etc…
2. What is Lou Ann’s relationship with her mother like? How does this relate to Taylor’s relationship with her mother?
3. On page 83, Bingo tells Lou Ann “whatever you want the most, it’s going to be the worst thing for you”. What do you think he means and is this a foreshadow?
4. Do you think Taylor liked the first house she visited at all? What made her become so sure about staying with Lou Ann?
5. On page 102, Lou Ann tries to hide her laugh and when Taylor asks what is so funny, she replies: “It’s been so long… You talk just like me”. Why do her and Taylor get along so well and what does this quote’s significance?
6. In Chapter 6, Taylor begins to work under Mattie at Jesus is Lord Tires. After an incident that scares her, she admits to Mattie that her fear of tires blowing up is her only fear. Do you think this is true, or is she hiding inner fears? How can you tell?
7. Taylor sits down with Lou Ann and tells her about her dislikes of living together, and how Lou Ann has begun to do almost everything for her, like watching Turtle, doing laundry, and even looking for new names for Turtle. Is it surprising to you that she wants less help from someone? What is her reasoning; freedom? Or does she just enjoy having responsibilities?
8. Has Turtle enhanced the “motherly” side of Taylor? If so, how, and is this a good thing or a bad thing?
9. There are two instances in chapters 5 and 6 where Turtle just stares into space without budging, once at the day care center and the other at the dinner table; is there any significance to this? How does it portray the character and past of Turtle?
10. What similarities do you see between Taylor and Lou Ann?

Closing Activity/Extension (5-10 minutes):
Find a quote or two on the internet that displays the theme of the book so far, or a quote you think a character can relate to.

Syllabus for Chapter 7,8,9 Olivia
Focus Question
ø How have the characters changed since the beginning of the book? What has had the greatest influence on the characters’ change?
Opening Activity

ø Look at song lyrics for “Scarred” by Kevin Rudolf and connect them back to things from the book. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW8Y5i1QfBA
Discussion Questions
ø Chapter 7: How They Eat in Heaven
§ On page 122 when they are talking about how warm the winter had been and how there was only one frost which was on Valentine ’s Day do you think that there could have been any significance to this? Or maybe is there some symbolism?
§ Page128 “In sleep, it seemed, she was free to do all that things that during her waking life she could only watch?
§ The last line on page 129 “ if that had bee Angel, he would’ve given himself two points for every one he could hit.” It is an interesting comment and there is a lot to analysis.
§ What do you think the significance of Turtle’s first word bean is?
The fact that it was in the garden I thought meant that it was a new beginning with the whole planting and things beginning

§ When Lou Ann measures things a since of time before and after Dwayne Ray, do you think that his reflects how society measures things? Have you ever noticed how much society measures other things other than time and compares it to other things?
§ Page 137 “Fear that the things you imagine will turn real.” Do you think that this is the fear that Taylor has?
ø Chapter 8: The Miracle of Dog Doo Park
§ Is Taylor really jealous of her mom because her mom is getting married?
§ Does the miracle of dog doo park bring up another theme for the book?
§ What is the significance of the park being named after Eleanor Roosevelt?
§ On page 168 “The way Angel sees himself, it’s like he’s an artificial leg with a person attached.”
§ How doest the discovery of Turtle’s real name April change the story or is there no change at all?
ø Chapter 9: Ismene
§ Do you think that Taylor is trying to talk herself out of the liking Estevan? If so why?
§ Page 185 “in a different world we could have been the family of dolls?” what does this quote reveal about Taylor and what does it reveal about society?
ø Just general questions
§ What is the significance of all the different languages and ethicists that are intertwined in the book?
§ How does the fact that Lou Ann despises her looks support our thoughts for a theme in this book? Does it change the theme or support a new theme?
§ How does this story relate to Puddin’head Wilson?

Closing Activity

ø Brainstorming : themes
§ Now that we are more than half way done with the book, what are some of the themes that we see through the changing of the characters?

Syllabus for Chapter 10,11,12 ~Kate

Today’s Focus Question: How have the characters evolved throughout the book and how does it change in these chapters? For example the roles of Lou Ann and Taylor and how Turtle is maturing or falling back where she began

Opening Focus Activity:

Look at the lyrics from the song “Misery is Business” by Paramore. How does this relate to Lou Ann and the changes she is going through in these chapters?

Club Discussion Questions:

1. Do you think Lou Ann is comparing herself to some society standard when she bashes her self image?
2. Do you think the fact that Virgie is blind says something about her character?
3. Was Esperanza uplifted or downtrodden by Taylor’s visit?
4. Do you think Taylor’s gift of being frank is one of her strengths or weaknesses?
5. Knowing that Esperanza’s name means “hope” and “wait”, do you think this holds any significance or foreshadowing?
6. What are some similarities that connect Turtle and Esperanza?
7. “Esperanza is all you get, no second chances.” P.200 Do you think that second chances never come? Why would Taylor especially say this?
8. What do you think about Taylor denying her feelings for Esteven and telling Esperanza that he is crazy about her?
9. Even though Lou Ann has low self esteem, why do you think she uses her sexuality when she continually degrades it?
10. Red Hot Mama’s, another feminist symbol?
11. Do the mating turtles serve any purpose?
12. Do you think Mattie is strong enough to stick up for Esteven and Esperenza?
13. Why is Taylor avoiding Turtle at a time like this? Has she completely given up on taking care of her?

Closing Activity:

Analyze the ending of the last chapter:
“What I’m saying is nobody feels sorry for anybody anymore, nobody even pretends they do. Not even the president. It’s like it’s become unpatriotic.” Pg 230
What does this say about how Taylor has evolved throughout the book? Is this just a learning experience for her or has she lost all hope in people?

Syllabus for chapters 13, 14, 15- Karly
Syllabus: The Bean Trees Book Club
Chapters 13, 14, 15

Today’s Focus Question: How Do characters change, develop, and mature in chapters 13, 14 and 15?

Opening Focus Activity (10-15 minutes):

Find quotes or song lyrics and make specific connections to changes in the lives of a character or an event that has happened in the last three chapters and draw a picture to share with the group.

Club Discussion Questions (20-30 minutes):
1. Do you think that Turtle burying the dolls could be symbolic of anything? What does her new vocabulary tell you about Turtle?
2. Cynthia is described as “cool-blooded by nature” What does this reveal about her character?
3. Why does Taylor think that she is unworthy of the position of taking care of Turtle? P. 239 “Nobody can protect a child from the world.”
4. “Cynthia’s office was tiny, really, and her desk wasn’t actually all that big” (241) how does this quote represent an overall change in Taylors character?
5. What does Taylor’s decision to take Esperanza and Estevan across the border say about her development as a character?
6. What are some different things the cereus could have represented?
7. “If you tried to keep this bird in a cage, it died.”(257) How do country symbols relate to the characters?
8. How does Taylor’s description of sun rise and sun set in her life relate to the lives of the characters in the book?
9. What do you think the favor Taylor asked for in the end was? What will it require of Estevan and Esperanza?

Closing Activity/Extension (5-10 minutes):

Take time for our group to work on our wikispace. Add new stuff from today and make sure everything is up to date and accurate. We want this to be an accurate reflection of the work out group has done.

Chapters 16-17:
Focus Question: How do characters come to ends with people and events in their lives?
Opening Activity: Read and discuss cartoon.
Discussion questions:
Chapter 16---
1. Do you think it was very ethical of Esteven and Esperanza to pretend to be Turtle’s parents?
2. How do you think Taylor felt about Esperanza’s episode in the office?
3. Has Taylor ever felt envious towards Esperanza and Turtle’s relationship?
4. Would Turtle really have had a better life and influence if she went with Esteven and Esperanza?

Chapter 17---
1. “All four of us had buried someone we loved in Oklahoma.” Does this give them all a special connection?
2. Why is it the only man Taylor has ever loved is unavailable to her? Does this tie to the prophecy of, “the thing you want most in life will be the worst for you”?
3. Other then saying good bye to one another, is there any other ends for the characters?
4. “I don’t think blood’s the only way kids come by things honest. Not even the main way. It’s what you tell them, Taylor. If a person is bad, say, then it makes them feel better to tell their kids that they’re even worse.” Is this true today? Back to the name question… Is what you tell your kids, what they end up believing?
5. How has Taylor become more confident in the idea of being a mother?
What has changed in her own mind about family and motherhood?
6. Just as characters in the book are metaphors for the Rhizobia, who in your life supports and matures you?
7. Has Taylor accepted the idea of her mix-matched family: Lou Ann, DawyneRay, Virgie…?
8. Has Lou Ann finally gotten over Angel? Do you think she has a new found confidence?
Closing Activity: Debriefing
Thoughts on the book?
Favorite characters, events…