The Bean Trees

Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer)

Born Marietta Greer, Taylor is the main protagonist and narrator of the novel. She leaves her Kentucky home to try to create a life for herself that does not include the inevitable housewife position that… (read full character analysis)

Turtle (April)

An abandoned Cherokee child, Turtle becomes Taylor Greer’s daughter when she is left with Taylor at a gas station in Oklahoma. Though severely traumatized by the abuse she suffered as a young child and the… (read full character analysis)

Lou Ann Ruiz

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… (read full character analysis)

Mattie

Taylor’s boss at the tire repair shop that Mattie owns in Tucson. Mattie is good with children and helps Taylor find confidence as a new mother. Taylor later finds out that Mattie is highly… (read full character analysis)

Estevan

A Guatemalan refugee, Estevan is a highly educated man who was forced to flee his home in Guatemala when the war there led to the persecution of teachers (which he was). He and his wife… (read full character analysis)
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Esperanza

A Guatemalan refugee and Estevan’s wife, Esperanza is badly shaken by the loss of her daughter Ismene during the war in Guatemalan. However, she begins to heal that wound by bonding with Turtle and… (read full character analysis)

Angel Ruiz

Lou Ann’s husband, who leaves her due to his own disappointment at losing his leg in a rodeo accident. He joins a rodeo in Montana and asks Lou Ann to come with him, but she… (read full character analysis)

Taylor’s Mother

Taylor’s mother, whose full name is Alice Jean Stamper Greer Elleston. She raised Taylor as a single parent and unconditionally supported Taylor throughout her life and loves Turtle for Taylor’s sake. Taylor’s mother gets remarried… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Dwayne Ray
Lou Ann’s son, born in the middle of the novel. Lou Ann believes that he is jinxed, even though Dwayne Ray is happy and healthy.
Newt Hardbine
Another student at Taylor’s high school, who lives out every bad expectation of poor families in Pittman County and dies at the hands of his own father.
Edna Poppy
One of Lou Ann and Taylor’s neighbors in Tucson, Edna is a sweet old woman who sometimes watches Dwayne Ray and Turtle. She always dresses in red and needs the help of her friend Virgie because she is blind.
Virgie Mae Parsons
One of Lou Ann and Taylor’s neighbors. Taylor finds Virgie incredibly stiff and mean, until Taylor finds out that Virgie cares for Edna because Edna is blind.
Granny Logan
Lou Ann’s grandmother, who is crotchety and constantly fighting with Lou Ann’s mother, Ivy. Granny Logan wants Lou Ann to come back to Kentucky and live with them.
Ivy Logan
Lou Ann’s mother, who lives with Granny Logan despite the fact that Granny Logan is her mother-in-law, and the two constantly fight. Ivy loves her daughter, but is very distant.
Ismene
Estevan and Esperanza’s daughter, who was taken from her parents during a raid in Guatemala City. They never see her again.
Sandi
A young mother who works at Burger Derby. She becomes Taylor’s first friend in Tucson and teaches Taylor a few tricks about how to raise a baby on a budget.
Cynthia
The social worker who first threatens to split up Taylor and Turtle, but helps Taylor find out how to legally adopt Turtle.
Mr. Jonas Armistead
The public notary in Oklahoma City who unknowingly fakes Taylor’s adoption of Turtle.
Eddie Rickett
Taylor’s first boss in her job at the Pittman County Hospital.
Mr. Hughes Walter
Taylor’s science teacher in high school, who helps Taylor get her first job.
Dr. P (Dr. Pelinowsky)
Lou Ann’s obstetrician, who agrees to see Turtle and helps Taylor realize the extent of the abuse Turtle suffered.
Mrs. Hoge
An old woman who owns the Broken Arrow, a motel in Oklahoma where Taylor works when she first finds Turtle. She wants her daughter-in-law, Irene, to lose weight and have a baby but dies of Parkinson’s disease before that happens.
Irene
Mrs. Hoge’s daughter-in-law, who is overweight. Irene loses weight and takes over the Broken Arrow motel when Mrs. Hoge dies.
Foster Greer
Taylor’s father, an alcoholic who never even knew Taylor existed.
Harland Elleston
Taylor’s mother’s second husband. He is a kind man who works at the auto body and paint shop in Pittman County, Kentucky.
Jolene Shank
Newt Hardbine’s wife, who is constantly pregnant and gets shot in the arm by Newt’s father.
Bob Two Two
The Cherokee mechanic in Oklahoma who fixes Taylor’s old car for an outrageously high price. Taylor later uses his last name when Estevan and Esperanza need Oklahoman identities.
Lee Sing
The Chinese owner of a grocery store that Taylor and Lou Ann shop at in Tucson.
Bobby Bingo
An old man who sells vegetables in Taylor’s neighborhood in Tucson.
Fei
A vegan woman in Tucson with whom Taylor does not get along when she is looking for a place to stay.
La-Isha
A vegan woman in Tucson with whom Taylor does not get along when she is looking for a place to stay.
Timothy
a vegan man in Tucson with whom Taylor does not get along when she is looking for a place to stay.