The Bean Trees

Esperanza Character Analysis

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 eventually helps Taylor gain legal custody of Turtle by posing as Turtle’s biological mother despite the high risk this put on her own undocumented status in the US. She finds the act of “giving” Turtle to Taylor to be healing, a kind of symbolic parting from her own lost daughter.

Esperanza Quotes in The Bean Trees

The The Bean Trees quotes below are all either spoken by Esperanza or refer to Esperanza. 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:
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperTorch edition of The Bean Trees published in 1998.
Chapter 10 Quotes

“It's terrible to lose somebody,” I said, “I mean, I don’t know firsthand, but I can imagine it must be. But it's also true that some people never have anybody to lose, and I think that's got to be so much worse.”

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Esperanza, Ismene
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

“A human being can be good or bad or right or wrong, maybe. But how can you say a person is illegal? You just can't. That's all there is to it.”

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Estevan, Esperanza
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

Here were a mother and her daughter, nothing less. A mother and child – in a world that could barely be bothered with mothers and children – who were going to be taken apart. Everybody believed it. Possibly Turtle believed it. I did.

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Turtle (April), Esperanza
Page Number: 288
Explanation and Analysis:
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Esperanza Character Timeline in The Bean Trees

The timeline below shows where the character Esperanza appears in The Bean Trees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: How They Eat in Heaven
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Taylor finally remembers the Guatemalan couples’ names: Estevan and Esperanza. She describes the married couple as more like twins, both for their matching names and... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Taylor describes the strange scene when Esperanza first met Turtle. When she saw Turtle get out of the car at the trailhead... (full context)
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
At the watering hole, Esperanza continues to watch Turtle while Taylor and Estevan decide to go for a swim after... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Calming down from the excitement, Estevan swims over to Esperanza’s rock and sings to her in Spanish. Taylor guesses that it is a love song... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
As Lou Ann worries over her hair, Taylor starts to prepare for Esperanza and Estevan to come over for dinner. Lou Ann invited them over to watch Mattie... (full context)
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Estevan and Esperanza arrive. Estevan compliments Taylor’s new look, thanks to Lou Ann’s ministrations and a borrowed Chinese... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...of trouble with illegal aliens and dope peddlers.” Taylor then tries to introduce Estevan and Esperanza, but Estevan cuts in to introduce himself as Steven and his wife as Hope. Virgie... (full context)
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Esperanza comes into the kitchen to help Taylor set the table, and Taylor apologizes for Virgie’s... (full context)
Chapter 9: Ismene
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Estevan rushes to Taylor’s house to tell Taylor that Esperanza has attempted suicide by overdosing on baby aspirin. Mattie has taken Esperanza to a clinic... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...then realizes that Estevan must be Catholic too. Taylor suddenly switches the subject back to Esperanza’s suicide attempt, telling Estevan there was nothing he could have done to prevent it. She... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...she is chattering, Taylor drinks half of her beer in silence before telling Estevan that Esperanza’s situation is different because Esperanza has Estevan to support her. Taylor realizes that she is... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Estevan asks Taylor not to judge Esperanza too harshly until she knows what Esperanza has had to go through. Taylor, confused at... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Estevan tells Taylor that Ismene was his and Esperanza’s daughter, and that she was taken in a raid on their neighborhood in Guatemala City.... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...together on the couch. Taylor holds his hand for a moment, then guiltily thinks of Esperanza struggling to stay alive in a clinic. She imagines Esperanza constantly searching for Ismene, a... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Bean Trees
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...her mother’s word, things look better in the morning. Mattie calls with good news of Esperanza, and Taylor sends Estevan home to his wife. Turtle wakes up and Lou Ann comes... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
That Monday, Taylor asks Mattie if she can see Esperanza. The “sanctuary” upstairs is still full of Mattie’s late husband’s things, and Taylor is overwhelmed... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Esperanza is sitting up in a small bedroom, looking out the window. Taylor comes in and... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Taylor realizes that Esperanza is like Turtle, able to understand much more than she can say. Taylor wishes that... (full context)
Chapter 11: Dream Angels
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...her “birdwatching” trips. The last time Mattie and Taylor talked, Mattie said that Estevan and Esperanza would have to be moved to either Oregon or Oklahoma to be safer from the... (full context)
Chapter 12: Into the Terrible Night
Nature Theme Icon
...day, Mattie closes the shop early and says that she is going to take Taylor, Esperanza, and Estevan somewhere. Taylor phones Edna to ask her to watch the kids a bit... (full context)
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...is quickly drenched. The sudden cold is shocking and refreshing. Estevan starts to dance with Esperanza and Taylor thinks about how much she loves him and how happy she is. At... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
As they follow Mattie back to the car, Esperanza suddenly grabs Taylor’s hand. A rattlesnake appears in the flashlight beam, as it hangs at... (full context)
Chapter 13: Night-Blooming Cereus
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Mattie is also worried, as her plans to get Estevan and Esperanza to another sanctuary in a safer state keep falling though. Yet Mattie still finds time... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...a car and hangs out in Mattie’s office making coffee and thinking of Estevan and Esperanza. She thinks about how women are usually the ones who must carry their families through... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...purple jelly bean. Taylor tells Lou Ann that she is going to drive Estevan and Esperanza to a safe house in Oklahoma, and try to see if she can find out... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...undocumented immigrants. Taylor pushes that out of her mind, and tells Mattie to worry about Esperanza and Estevan. In any case, Mattie insists that Taylor take her truck instead of Taylor’s... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...to bode good weather for travel, as Taylor and Turtle go to meet Estevan and Esperanza for the trip. Taylor’s suitcase is bigger than the couple’s, even though their suitcase holds... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...to Taylor, looking at Taylor the way that Taylor’s mother does. She then kisses Estevan, Esperanza, and Turtle goodbye as Taylor starts to cry. Taylor drives out of town, reaching the... (full context)
Chapter 14: Guardian Saints
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Near the New Mexico border, Taylor, Turtle, Estevan and Esperanza are stopped at an immigration check point. Mattie knew this might happen, so she had... (full context)
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Taylor learns that Estevan and Esperanza actually speak dialects of Mayan, and that they chose the Spanish names “Estevan” and “Esperanza”... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...describes how her father abandoned her mother before she was born. Estevan tells Taylor that Esperanza also grew up without a father. Meanwhile, in the backseat, Esperanza sings traditional Mayan songs... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
The next morning, Estevan and Esperanza stay with Taylor as she searches for Turtle’s family, instead of going straight to the... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...in Oklahoma. The little group finally reaches the bar where Taylor found Turtle. Estevan and Esperanza, as well as Turtle, give Taylor a hug for luck, and Taylor goes into the... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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...the two men who were in the bar that night. Taylor decides to bring Estevan, Esperanza, and Turtle in for lunch while she thinks about what to do next. (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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...to do next, Taylor decides to go to Lake of the Cherokees and Estevan and Esperanza agree to accompany her again instead of going to the sanctuary house. Taylor calls it... (full context)
Chapter 15: Lake O’ the Cherokees
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
As Taylor drives closer to the heart of Cherokee Nation, Estevan and Esperanza start to feel more comfortable as they find themselves surrounded by people with skin color... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...“real” mother makes Taylor even more insecure in her role as Turtle’s mother. Turtle and Esperanza have bonded over the course of this trip, and Taylor feels somewhat jealous of the... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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Esperanza also comes to life at this cottage. Taylor thinks that some ice in Esperanza has... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...next day, Estevan and Taylor rent a boat on the Lake of the Cherokees while Esperanza and Turtle feed ducks. Taylor dabbles her feet in the water and Estevan takes his... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Later, Taylor, Estevan, Esperanza, and Turtle picnic by the lake and Turtle amuses them all with her three-year-old antics.... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
That night, Taylor asks Estevan and Esperanza to do her one more favor. She explains that it will be risky and gives... (full context)
Chapter 16: Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...how they want to make legal arrangements for Taylor to adopt Turtle from Estevan and Esperanza, who are the child’s parents. (full context)
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Mr. Armistead reminds Estevan and Esperanza that this adoption would be permanent, and Esperanza nods with tears in her eyes. They... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Esperanza suddenly breaks in to say that she and Estevan love Turtle, but know that Taylor... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Turtle runs into Esperanza’s arms and the whole office watches her and Esperanza say goodbye as mother and child.... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...effort, drafts a statement that grants legal custody of Turtle to Taylor from Estevan and Esperanza. Taylor thinks about the two secretaries who signed as witnesses, one of whom looks Cherokee,... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...leave the office, a strange new combination of friends and family. Estevan looks relieved, while Esperanza looks as if she has been made new. They both wear slightly worn denim clothing... (full context)
Chapter 17: Rhizobia
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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Turtle continues to call, “mama!” at cemeteries as they drive Estevan and Esperanza to the new Sanctuary church where they will be staying. The church is cheerful and... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...seemed dazed by the farewell. Taylor is afraid for the new life that Estevan and Esperanza will have to build, but Estevan insists that they will survive like they always have.... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...write when he can, sending letters through Mattie. Estevan tells Taylor to imagine him and Esperanza in Guatemala, happy with another baby on the way. Taylor asks if Esperanza had a... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...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)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...a 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)