The Bean Trees

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Lou Ann Ruiz Character Analysis

Though reeling from her husband Angel’s abandonment at the beginning of the novel while she is pregnant, Lou Ann becomes Taylor’s best friend and an important mother figure in the surrogate family that she and Taylor create for their children. Lou Ann overcomes her low self-esteem and her tendency to worry about disaster in order to provide for her son Dwayne Ray.

Lou Ann Ruiz Quotes in The Bean Trees

The The Bean Trees quotes below are all either spoken by Lou Ann Ruiz or refer to Lou Ann Ruiz. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the HarperTorch edition of The Bean Trees published in 1998.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“Feeding a girl is like feeding the neighbor’s New Year Pig. All that work. In the end, it goes to some other family.” Lou Ann felt offended, but didn’t really know how to answer. She was a long way from her own family in Kentucky, but she didn’t see this as being entirely her fault.

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Lee Sing (speaker), Lou Ann Ruiz
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

Lee Sing presents another cultural viewpoint on women, which is just as misogynistic as the rural American culture that Taylor and Lou Ann experience growing up. Lee Sing predicts that Lou Ann’s baby will be a girl, then laments that Lou Ann will have to do all the work of raising her daughter just to “give” that daughter away to another family when it comes time to marry. Lou Ann herself has married a Mexican man and moved to Tucson with him rather than staying close to her family in Kentucky, but is offended at the thought that she was “wasted effort” to her family. In both the Chinese and American cultures, Kingsolver suggests, girls are not respected as valid people. The girls are then blamed for not staying close to a family that never appreciated them for their merits. At this point, Lou Ann sees these injustices but has no idea how to confront them or change them.

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Chapter 4 Quotes

He moved around in there for quite a while before he said anything to Lou Ann, and it struck her that his presence was different from the feeling of women filling up the house. He could be there, or not, and it hardly made any difference. Like a bug or a mouse scratching in the cupboards at night – you could get up and chase after it, or just go back to sleep and let it be. That was good, she decided.

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Lou Ann Ruiz (speaker), Angel Ruiz
Page Number: 84-85
Explanation and Analysis:

After Lou Ann’s family leaves from their visit helping Lou Ann take care of her newborn son, her husband, Angel, returns to pack up his stuff and move back out. Lou Ann then explains the difference between Angel’s presence in the house and her mother and grandmother’s presence in the house: her female family members fill the house while Angel leaves it still empty. Lou Ann compares Angel to an animal, rather than another human being in the house. To Lou Ann, at least, women offer companionship to other women, but men are not even the same species. Even if Lou Ann were to try to communicate with Angel, he wouldn’t understand, and Lou Ann would just have to “chase” after him rather than talk to him as equals. Lou Ann decides that this is a good thing, growing up as she did with a mother and grandmother who kept each other from getting lonely both while Lou Ann’s father was alive and after he died. It is only once Lou Ann meets Taylor that she feels true companionship.

Chapter 6 Quotes

I’ll tell you one thing,” Lou Ann said. “when something was bugging Angel, he’d never of stayed up half the night with me talking and eating everything that wasn’t nailed down. You’re not still mad, are you?” I held up two fingers. “Peace, sister.”

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Lou Ann Ruiz (speaker), Angel Ruiz
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

Soon after Lou Ann and Taylor start to room together, Taylor takes on the “father” role in the family by going to work and coming home grumpy, while Lou Ann takes the “mother” role by staying home with the kids and trying to keep Taylor happy. Yet instead of perpetuating this dynamic, Taylor quickly becomes uncomfortable with the standard gender roles that they are falling into and decides to talk to Lou Ann about how they can keep up a more equitable arrangement in the house. Lou Ann can’t believe that Taylor is treating her with such respect, commenting that her husband, Angel, would never have tried to solve a problem by talking. Kingsolver presents this night of talking things out as a hallmark of healthy female relationships, a point which Taylor underscores by calling Lou Ann “sister.” Relationships between women in the novel have a chance of being fair, whereas relationships between men and women are usually unequal. Even if the family of two women and their children is less conventional than the family with a mother and a father, Lou Ann is far better off living with Taylor than she ever was living with Angel.

Chapter 7 Quotes

This whole conversation had started with a rhyme he used to help his students remember how to pronounce English vowels…Lou Ann and I had already told him three or four times that he spoke better English than the two of us combined.

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Lou Ann Ruiz, Estevan
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

One of the defining traits of Estevan’s character is his command of the English language, even though it is not his first or even his second language. When he first comes to America, Estevan’s English skills are a necessary part of his survival, but they are also an important sign that he truly belongs in this country. Lou Ann and Taylor stand out because of their Kentucky accents, meaning that Estevan actually fits in better in Tucson than they do. Estevan has put years of effort into perfecting his English, while Lou Ann and Taylor have never put much thought into their speaking patterns. This parallels the way that those born in the United States take their place in this country for granted, while immigrants must fight to prove that they belong here.

Chapter 11 Quotes

…If somebody offered to show me a picture of Dwayne Ray in the year 2001, I swear I wouldn’t look.”
“Well, nobody’s going to,” I said gently, “so you don’t have to worry about it. There’s no such thing as dream angels. Only in the Bible, and that was totally another story.”

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Lou Ann Ruiz (speaker), Dwayne Ray
Page Number: 210-211
Explanation and Analysis:

Lou Ann and Taylor bond over their shared experience as new mothers, but Taylor often gets frustrated with how much Lou Ann worries that Dwayne Ray will fall victim to some disaster. Lou Ann’s preoccupation with disaster is her defining character trait for much of the novel, as her father’s death and her family’s superstitious outlook on life have caused her to look for danger everywhere. Yet Taylor insists that worrying about all the possible disasters is a waste of effort that won’t help the young women deal with disaster when it actually happens. Taylor often references Christianity as a place that people look to for comfort during a disaster, but she usually seems skeptical that this religious belief will help either. Here, Taylor suggests that “dream angels” are only real in the Bible, an alternate reality where anything can happen that does not have much to do with the real world that she and Lou Ann have to live in. Kingsolver seems to agree that there are a lot of terrible things that can happen to a child, considering her frank portrayal of Turtle’s sexual abuse or the hardships that the Guatemalan refugee children face. Yet the proper response to these dangers is not to make up “dream angels” that warn Lou Ann of all the possible things that might happen to Dwayne Ray, or retreat to asking help from other sources, but to face up to these events when they come and deal with them as best as one can.

Chapter 12 Quotes

“Well, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger," she said. “Nobody is.”

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Lou Ann Ruiz (speaker)
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

After Turtle is assaulted in Roosevelt Park because Edna accidentally kept her out after nightfall, Turtle returns to the non-responsive state that Taylor originally found her in and Taylor starts to question her own fitness as a mother. Lou Ann gets angry at Taylor, wondering why she would consider abandoning her child like that. When Lou Ann finally confronts Taylor, Taylor confesses how worried she is about keeping a child safe in such a dangerous world. Lou Ann’s answer refers to the Lone Ranger, a cowboy character who famously worked alone while he crossed the frontier of the United States. While this lone wolf attitude may have worked for the cowboy hero, it is the exact opposite of what the responsibilities of motherhood require. Taylor has to remember that she isn’t raising Turtle on her own, even if she is a single mother. She has Taylor, Mattie, and countless others supporting her as she supports Turtle. Moreover, every mother has to have some sort of human support system in order to survive and help their children. These family connections are the most important human bonds in the novel, as the characters step up to help each other again and again through disaster and tragedy.

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Lou Ann Ruiz Character Timeline in The Bean Trees

The timeline below shows where the character Lou Ann Ruiz appears in The Bean Trees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: New Year’s Pig
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The chapter begins by introducing Lou Ann Ruiz , a woman from Kentucky who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. Lou Ann is married... (full context)
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Lou Ann knows that she and Angel will likely separate, but does nothing to either hasten his... (full context)
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...on a Friday because it is pay day, apparently unaware that it is Halloween. Meanwhile, Lou Ann is at a doctor’s appointment for her seven-month prenatal exam. She worries over the baby’s... (full context)
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At the doctor appointment, Dr. P warns Lou Ann again that she is gaining too much weight. Lou Ann has barely thought about her... (full context)
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Lou Ann gets on the bus to go home and continues to look at the pamphlet, wondering... (full context)
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Lou Ann gets off the bus in front of a shop called “Jesus Is Lord Used Tires.”... (full context)
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On her walk home, Lou Ann goes to the Lee Sing Market to buy some of the new foods from the... (full context)
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Lou Ann makes it home, grateful that none of the neighborhood homeless tried to talk to her.... (full context)
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Lou Ann has forgotten that it’s Halloween, and so when some children come to the door, Lou... (full context)
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At 11 pm, Lou Ann gives up on the trick-or-treaters and goes to bed. As she gets ready for bed,... (full context)
Chapter 4: Tug Fork Water
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The story returns to Lou Ann, who has recently given birth. Lou Ann’s mother Ivy Logan and Grandmother Logan have come... (full context)
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Lou Ann tries to convince Ivy and Grandmother Logan to stay longer so that they can spend... (full context)
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...Ivy are not speaking because of a long-forgotten argument, they are each other’s only companions. Lou Ann wonders how her mother and grandmother will communicate on the Greyhound bus home to Kentucky.... (full context)
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Lou Ann has grown accustomed to living in the desert, though it was a hard transition, and... (full context)
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Before they leave, Granny Logan gives Lou Ann a small vial of water from the Tug Fork river to baptize Dwayne Ray. Lou... (full context)
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Lou Ann writes out directions to the bus depot and helps Granny Logan put on a coat... (full context)
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As Lou Ann walks back from the bus stop to her house, she stops at Bobby Bingo’s truck... (full context)
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Lou Ann gets home, washes the fruit and stews about Bobby’s final warning. She opens all the... (full context)
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As Lou Ann nurses Dwayne Ray, Angel returns from work. Lou Ann notices his presence in the kitchen,... (full context)
Chapter 5: Harmonious Space
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...is right across the street from Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. Taylor meets the owner, Lou Ann Ruiz , and the two women bond immediately over their Kentucky backgrounds. Taylor and Lou Ann... (full context)
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Lou Ann tells Taylor that Dwayne Ray was born in January and asks how old Turtle is.... (full context)
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Lou Ann and Taylor continue to talk about the events that led Taylor to find Turtle. Lou... (full context)
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Lou Ann brings Dwayne Ray out, fussing about his flat face, but Taylor assures her that all... (full context)
Chapter 6: Valentine’s Day
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...say no. The working arrangement is perfect, because Turtle can come in to work if Lou Ann can’t watch her. (full context)
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When Taylor gets home, she finds out that Lou Ann has bought a baby name book for Turtle. Lou Ann reads out names to Turtle... (full context)
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In a bad mood, Taylor tells Lou Ann that trying to find out Turtle’s name is foolish, but Lou Ann insists that they... (full context)
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Taylor starts to feed Turtle some borscht soup, while Lou Ann warns her not to give Turtle any peas so she won’t choke. Lou Ann sees... (full context)
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...to sleep, Taylor realizes that she is uncomfortable with the family dynamic that she and Lou Ann have fallen into with Lou Ann caring for the kids and Taylor working all day.... (full context)
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A while into this conversation about families, Lou Ann goes very still and Taylor thinks that she is choking. Lou Ann then covers her... (full context)
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Lou Ann recounts an embarrassing experience she had while drinking. She and Angel went to look for... (full context)
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Still melancholy, Lou Ann mourns her lack of a husband on Valentine’s Day. Taylor doesn’t know how to comfort... (full context)
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...fridge, even as she thinks that too much junk food will kill them. She tells Lou Ann her theory on “staying with one man your whole life long,” which involves Taylor’s experience... (full context)
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Lou Ann and Taylor keep laughing, so Taylor shows Lou Ann the wrench card she got for... (full context)
Chapter 7: How They Eat in Heaven
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The chapter opens as Lou Ann remembers a mnemonic device for spelling “arithmetic”: A Red Indian Thought He Might Eat Tobacco... (full context)
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Taylor, Lou Ann, Mattie, and the two Guatemalan refugees are talking about spelling while on a picnic in... (full context)
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The picnic spot is a watering hole that Lou Ann recommended, as it was a place that she and Angel used to go to together.... (full context)
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...while Taylor and Estevan decide to go for a swim after finishing their baloney sandwiches. Lou Ann furiously warns them not to swim for at least an hour after eating, for fear... (full context)
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...at dusk, with Estevan driving Mattie’s car because of Mattie’s terrible vision at night and Lou Ann, Taylor and the kids in Taylor’s car. Mattie warns Estevan not to attract the attention... (full context)
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Lou Ann and Taylor try to see what made Estevan stop, finally noticing a family of quail... (full context)
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...failing as a mother. Taylor laughs at herself for looking for signs, blaming it on Lou Ann ’s avid interest in horoscopes and symbols. Yet when it happens, neither Lou Ann nor... (full context)
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...some beans home for Turtle to play with, and Taylor agrees (though she worries what Lou Ann will think of the choking hazard). Taylor explains to Turtle the difference between playing-with beans,... (full context)
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At home, Lou Ann is cutting her hair again, something that has become an almost daily habit. Taylor warns... (full context)
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As Lou Ann worries over her hair, Taylor starts to prepare for Esperanza and Estevan to come over... (full context)
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As Taylor cooks dinner, she mulls over the arrangement she and Lou Ann have made over household chores. Taylor wants to make sure that Lou Ann feels repaid... (full context)
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Lou Ann worries about what to wear for the party, considering that she is heavier after giving... (full context)
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Lou Ann compares her fear of being on TV to her childhood fear of saying something inappropriate... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Miracle of Dog Doo Park
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...at a car body paint shop in Pittman County, Kentucky. Taylor is incredulous, both that Lou Ann was the one to receive this important phone call and that her mother is getting... (full context)
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Lou Ann is much more excited about the prospect of a wedding than Taylor is, as Taylor... (full context)
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Lou Ann and Taylor are talking about the upcoming wedding while their kids play in Roosevelt park,... (full context)
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...upset that her mother is going to marry a man who isn’t “related” to them. Lou Ann reminds Taylor that she never seems to like any men, to which Taylor responds that... (full context)
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Lou Ann starts to daydream about when she first met Angel. Though the only good thing to... (full context)
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As Lou Ann talks, a boy in a Michael Jackson t-shirt runs up and tells Lou Ann that... (full context)
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Lou Ann circles back to talking about Taylor’s mother. Taylor scoffs that her mother, already named Alice... (full context)
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Taylor and Lou Ann have started leaving Turtle and Dwayne Ray with Edna Poppy and Virgie Mae Parsons a... (full context)
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When Edna and Virgie leave, Lou Ann wonders why Angel would want to see her again. Taylor, however, wonders why sweet Edna... (full context)
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...he said, Angel soon comes back. But instead of trying to move back in with Lou Ann, he tells Lou Ann that he is leaving for good. Taylor, meanwhile, is off at... (full context)
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After Turtle’s doctor appointment, Taylor and Turtle meet Lou Ann and Dwayne Ray at the zoo. On the bus there, Taylor tries to ignore the... (full context)
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...the big turtles (hoping that the little girl won’t be confused by the name) and Lou Ann explains more about Angel’s desire to leave Tucson for the Colorado-Montana rodeo circuit. An older... (full context)
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When Lou Ann tells Taylor that Angel talked about divorce papers, Taylor warns Lou Ann that she may... (full context)
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Turtle interrupts Lou Ann and Taylor’s conversation to present Taylor a peanut she has dug out of the ground.... (full context)
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Uninterested in Lou Ann and Taylor’s conversation, Turtle delightedly feeds peanuts to a duck. Taylor leans back and listens... (full context)
Chapter 9: Ismene
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Taylor starts to tell Estevan of unimportant things, explaining that Lou Ann has gone for the night with Dwayne Ray to her mother-in-law’s house for a family... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Bean Trees
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...news of Esperanza, and Taylor sends Estevan home to his wife. Turtle wakes up and Lou Ann comes home in a good mood. Taylor marvels at the birds that sing every morning,... (full context)
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...this spot in the park as a special haven from the tumble of downtown Tucson. Lou Ann is full of gossip after her enjoyable weekend at the Ruiz family reunion. Lou Ann... (full context)
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On the way home from the park, Lou Ann buys a newspaper to keep looking for a job. Meanwhile, Taylor and Turtle go to... (full context)
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Lou Ann is also shocked to learn that Edna is blind and feels guilty for never noticing... (full context)
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On Wednesday, Taylor meets Lou Ann. Lou Ann had just been on a job interview at a convenience store, but the... (full context)
Chapter 11: Dream Angels
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The novel moves forward to the third week of May, with the news that Lou Ann has found a job at a salsa factory. It is sweaty, hard, packing line work... (full context)
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...a bit less hot sauce in their lives, she truly enjoys the new side of Lou Ann that has appeared. They leave the kids with Edna Poppy every day, having cleared the... (full context)
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One night, Lou Ann and Taylor talk about the day they went to the zoo, and Lou Ann wonders... (full context)
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Lou Ann tells Taylor that she was worried sick that Dwayne Ray wouldn’t be born “normal,” which... (full context)
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When Taylor tells Lou Ann that she always finds disaster because she looks for it, Lou Ann describes how, as... (full context)
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Lou Ann believes that she is irreversibly screwed up because of all her worrying, but Taylor tries... (full context)
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...June, Angel sends a package from Montana with cowboy themed presents for Dwayne Ray and Lou Ann, along with a letter saying that he’s changed his mind about the divorce and wants... (full context)
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Lou Ann reminds herself that she has responsibilities at the salsa factory that she can’t leave, having... (full context)
Chapter 12: Into the Terrible Night
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When Taylor arrives home, she can tell right away that Lou Ann has been crying. Taylor asks Lou Ann if she’s alright, and Lou Ann explains that... (full context)
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Lou Ann tells Taylor that Edna and Turtle were at the park enjoying the cool air from... (full context)
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A knock at the door makes Taylor, Lou Ann, and Edna jump. The police come in, with a social worker. The social worker asks... (full context)
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...the broom from Virgie and chases the bird until it smacks into the wall, while Lou Ann spells out Turtle’s doctor’s name in the living room. Virgie tries to coax the dazed... (full context)
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...progress she made convincing Turtle that no one would hurt her ever again is lost. Lou Ann, surprisingly, reminds Taylor that a mother can never shield their child from everything. Yet Lou... (full context)
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Taylor escapes the house by going in to work, leaving Lou Ann to try to rouse Turtle and comfort Edna and Virgie. Lou Ann also becomes determined... (full context)
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One night after the incident, Lou Ann comes in to Taylor’s room to try to coax her into eating some soup. Taylor... (full context)
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Taylor continues to tell Lou Ann about all the ugliness she has seen in Tucson, and the way her heart breaks... (full context)
Chapter 13: Night-Blooming Cereus
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Lou Ann is furious when she hears that CPS may take Turtle away. Yet Taylor is ready... (full context)
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Lou Ann tries to inspire Taylor’s bravery, but to no effect. When Lou Ann wonders where the... (full context)
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When Taylor gets home, she finds Lou Ann and the kids at the park. Turtle is playing at making a garden, and Lou... (full context)
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While Lou Ann worries about Turtle, Mattie is worried about what will happen to Taylor if she gets... (full context)
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The night before Taylor is to leave for Oklahoma, Virgie comes over as Lou Ann and Taylor are arguing about what to pack. Virgie tells Taylor and Lou Ann that... (full context)
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...beside her and tells Turtle the name of the flower, which Turtle pronounces “See us.” Lou Ann notes the delicate, lemony smell of the flowers. Edna says that she can smell it... (full context)
Chapter 17: Rhizobia
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...now Turtle’s real mother in every sense of the word. Many people love Turtle, including Lou Ann, Mattie, Estevan, and Esperanza, but Taylor loves her best of all. (full context)
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...typing secretaries and Taylor is nervous that the whole thing will fall through. She calls Lou Ann, and Lou Ann tells her that she has decided not to go back to Angel,... (full context)
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Lou Ann confesses that she told someone at work that she, Taylor, Turtle, and Dwayne Ray are... (full context)
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...soup, this time mixing in all the people of her family. Dwayne Ray, Mattie, Esperanza, Lou Ann, and everyone else are in there, but Taylor is the main ingredient. (full context)