The Bean Trees

Estevan Character Analysis

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, Esperanza, had their daughter Ismene taken from them in Guatemala but he remains hopeful that they can rebuild their life in the United States. Taylor falls in love with his quiet grace, though he never strays from his wife and she does not seek to get him to. He does help Taylor gain legal custody of Turtle by posing as Turtle’s biological father despite the high risk of speaking to public officials due to his own undocumented status in the US. Estevan is both strong and sensitive, and seems to embody the characteristics of what the novel sees as the ideal man.

Estevan Quotes in The Bean Trees

The The Bean Trees quotes below are all either spoken by Estevan or refer to Estevan. 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 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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Chapter 8 Quotes

“You are poetic, mi’ija.”
“What’s miha?”
“Mi hija,” he pronounced it slowly.
“My something?”
“My daughter. But it doesn’t work the same in English. We say it to friends. You would call me mi’ijo.”

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Estevan
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 9 Quotes

“You think you're the foreigner here, and I’m the American, and I just look the other way while the President or somebody sends down this and that . . . to torture people with. But nobody asked my permission, okay? Sometimes I feel like I'm a foreigner, too.”

Related Characters: Taylor Greer (Marietta Greer) (speaker), Estevan
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Estevan Character Timeline in The Bean Trees

The timeline below shows where the character Estevan 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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...time, with an orange canteen that sticks out as if from another planet. Taylor asks Estevan if Esperanza is okay, and he says that she is. He explains that Turtle simply... (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 finishing their baloney sandwiches. Lou Ann furiously warns... (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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
The group leaves the picnic spot at dusk, with Estevan driving Mattie’s car because of Mattie’s terrible vision at night and Lou Ann, Taylor and... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Lou Ann and Taylor try to see what made Estevan stop, finally noticing a family of quail crossing the road in front of the car.... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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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 who was... (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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...“some kind 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... (full context)
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Estevan brings out a package of chopsticks for everyone to use. Taylor thanks him, but Edna... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Miracle of Dog Doo Park
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
...that she never seems to like any men, to which Taylor responds that she likes Estevan. As she says so, Taylor feels her heart jump a beat and realizes that she... (full context)
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...what Virgie said about immigrants the night they all had dinner together. She apologizes to Estevan and says that Virgie didn’t really mean it. Estevan just shrugs and says that Americans... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
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Estevan and Taylor chat often, as Estevan gets ready to catch his bus from Mattie’s office... (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... (full context)
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Estevan and Taylor go into the kitchen, with Estevan lost in grief and Taylor unsure what... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Taylor starts to tell Estevan of unimportant things, explaining that Lou Ann has gone for the night with Dwayne Ray... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...Scotty’s plight, explaining that he had no friends in any of the usual Pittman cliques. Estevan compares these cliques to the Indian caste system, where people of different castes cannot mix.... (full context)
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Estevan suddenly breaks the silence to tell Taylor about the Guatemalan use of electricity in interrogation... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Taylor admits that she has had it easier that Estevan because she is American, but she also tells him that Tucson is a foreign country... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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Estevan asks Taylor not to judge Esperanza too harshly until she knows what Esperanza has had... (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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Taylor is horrified that Estevan had to choose between saving his daughter or saving the lives of his friends. She... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...tears. Turtle goes to cuddle in Taylor’s lap and Snowboots the cat lays down in Estevan’s lap. Taylor thinks that the four of them look like a family of paper dolls... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...would go extinct if people had the option to return babies after a thirty-day trial. Estevan laughs and says he would have kept Ismene, but Taylor reminds him that he, as... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
When Taylor finally wakes up again, she and Estevan are curled together on the couch. Taylor holds his hand for a moment, then guiltily... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Bean Trees
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...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 home in a good... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...she could give Esperanza something to hold in her empty hands, then tells Esperanza that Estevan told her about Ismene. Esperanza looks away in pain. Taylor, still intensely unsure of what... (full context)
Chapter 11: Dream Angels
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
...Lou Ann wonders how a turtle can get pregnant, considering their shells. Taylor shares that Estevan told her that the Spanish phrase for giving birth literally means “to give the baby... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...often on 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... (full context)
Chapter 12: Into the Terrible Night
Nature Theme Icon
...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 longer. Mattie... (full context)
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...the hilltop, and the foursome 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... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...the rain makes it wet enough for them to come to the surface to mate. Estevan devilishly agrees that only death and sex are worth making as much noise as the... (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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...finishes up 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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
...eating a 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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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...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 old car,... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...flower seems 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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...goodbye 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... (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... (full context)
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...and Turtle had loved when they first came to Arizona. The rocks are stark, and Estevan comments that this is what the earth would have looked like if God had stopped... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Taylor and Estevan talk as Taylor drives. Estevan tells Taylor about the quetzal bird that is the symbol... (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”... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...they continue talking, Taylor 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... (full context)
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...She wonders aloud why everyone always tries to remove Indians from their own lands, and Estevan sighs that he hates how he never feels like he belongs anywhere. Thinking of the... (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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Estevan goes over the back story he has invented for “Steven and Hope” as Americans, but... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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...about 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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...about what 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... (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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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...at this cottage. Taylor thinks that some ice in Esperanza has finally started to thaw. Estevan presents flowers to Taylor, Esperanza, and Turtle. Taylor is supposed to start calling the couple... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
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The next day, Estevan and Taylor rent a boat on the Lake of the Cherokees while Esperanza and Turtle... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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Later, Taylor, Estevan, Esperanza, and Turtle picnic by the lake and Turtle amuses them all with her three-year-old... (full context)
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That night, Taylor asks Estevan and Esperanza to do her one more favor. She explains that it will be risky... (full context)
Chapter 16: Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...small group who has descended on his office. He fiddles with his hearing aids as Estevan and Taylor spin persuasive lies about their pasts and explain how they want to make... (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... (full context)
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Esperanza suddenly breaks in to say that she and Estevan love Turtle, but know that Taylor will be able to take better care of her.... (full context)
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...with great 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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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...with everyone as they 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... (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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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...adults also 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... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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Taylor asks Estevan to write when he can, sending letters through Mattie. Estevan tells Taylor to imagine him... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
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Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...Turtle plays with her new St. Christopher medallion and Taylor tries not to think about Estevan. She and Turtle have their second “real” conversation (the first being about Turtle’s mother at... (full context)