Birds serve as a symbol of freedom in the novel because of their ability to fly, but it is a delicate, vulnerable freedom. Birds represent the freedom of nature, but this freedom is threatened by the confines of modern life in an American city like Tucson. Roads kill birds, while houses trap them in places that they don’t belong. Taylor mourns a blackbird killed on the side of the road and tries to release a trapped song sparrow from her kitchen at moments when the institutions of modern life are most threatening to Taylor’s ability to hold on to her adopted daughter Turtle. Conversely, when Taylor hears bird song, the city of Tucson seems a friendlier, kinder place. In addition, the heroes of the novel are the characters who treat birds with kindness, as when Estevan stops his car to allow quail to pass. Through the relationships of these characters with the birds around them, the novel suggests that the natural freedom that birds represent can be harmed by humans, but also require human protection in order to survive and thrive.
Birds Quotes in The Bean Trees
I wasn’t really afraid, but there is something about seeing a snake that makes your stomach tighten, no matter how you make up your mind to feel about it. “Fair’s fair,” Mattie pointed out, as we skirted a wide path around the tree. “Everybody’s got her own mouths to feed.”