The Bean Trees

Water and Rain Symbol Icon

Water in many forms symbolizes new realizations and new decisions for the characters. When Lou Ann receives a bottle of tug fork creek water to baptize her son Dwayne Ray, she realizes that she is no longer connected to her old home and needs to build her own family in Tucson. Yet when Angel pours that water out, Lou Ann starts to understand that she will not start that new life with him. Taylor has a similar experience watching the first rain of summer in Tucson, as she discovers her intense love for her new desert home, yet this rain also foreshadows Turtle’s assault which makes Taylor question her place as Turtle’s mother.

Finally, Taylor makes very important decisions while on lakes. While swimming with Estevan, Taylor first acknowledges her feelings for him. Then, while boating on the Lake of the Cherokees, Taylor says goodbye to that love and comes up with a plan for keeping Turtle for good. Throughout the novel, water is a sign of change for the characters – with all the good and bad consequences that those changes bring.

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Water and Rain Symbol Timeline in The Bean Trees

The timeline below shows where the symbol Water and Rain appears in The Bean Trees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: Tug Fork Water
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
Before they leave, Granny Logan gives Lou Ann a small vial of water from the Tug Fork river to baptize Dwayne Ray. Lou Ann takes the bottle, not... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...Kentucky without any desire to go back. She picks up the bottle of Tug Fork water that her grandmother left out and puts it in the medicine cabinet, unsure what else... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
...related by marriage. Angel goes into the bathroom and find the bottle of Tug Fork water. As he pours it out, scoffing at the backwards Kentucky traditions, Lou Ann focuses on... (full context)
Chapter 12: Into the Terrible Night
Nature Theme Icon
...Native American tribes of this region because it is the day of the first summer rain. In the desert, rain marks the new year because all of the plants and animals... (full context)
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
The rain storm reaches the hilltop, and the foursome is quickly drenched. The sudden cold is shocking... (full context)
Chapter 13: Night-Blooming Cereus
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Disaster and Survival Theme Icon
Taylor is miserable, both due to the non-stop rain and her own depression in the wake of Turtle’s incident. She compares simple sadness to... (full context)
Chapter 15: Lake O’ the Cherokees
Nature Theme Icon
Belonging and Homeland Theme Icon
At the beautiful Lake of the Cherokees , the group rents a small cottage for the night. Turtle plays in a little... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
Feminism and Solidarity Among Women Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...of the Cherokees while Esperanza and Turtle feed ducks. Taylor dabbles her feet in the water and Estevan takes his shirt off to feel the sun, making Taylor’s heart flip. She... (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. Taylor lifts out of her sad... (full context)
Family and Motherhood Theme Icon
...tells her how much her mother must have loved her. They watch boats on the lake and Taylor remembers back to her childhood attempts to fish. Taylor knows that she still... (full context)