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Gender Roles In Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees

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Women , now as much as ever, struggle with gender roles and expectations in society. For example, many would be surprised to learn that a woman who does the same job as a man makes 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Barbara Kingsolver exemplifies this idea in her novel The Bean Trees, a story about a young woman who struggles to survive as she travels across the country from Pittman County to Tucson, OK, illegally adopting a baby along the way. Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees argues that American societies’ gender roles influence the treatment of women as well as shapes their character and personality, pressuring women across America to conform to the propagandized stereotypes.
The Bean Trees, specifically regarding Lou Ann, expresses
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For example, when Lou Ann is pregnant and riding on the bus, she explains how relaxing it is to be pregnant because men do not, “rub up against her when the bus made sudden stops and turns.” Lou Ann feels as though the only way she can be left alone without being inappropriately touched is when she is visibly pregnant. Just because Lou Ann is a woman, she is leaned against and rubbed on by men. In addition, Taylor describes herself as, “Lucky that way,” because she does not have a father. Taylor hears so many stories and witnesses so many examples of poor treatment of women that she considers herself lucky to not have a father, a juxtaposition to the depression many children feel growing up without a parent. Taylor views men as a burden to her, giving her a flamboyant and rebellious attitude, especially towards men. One can observe this anywhere from her wardrobe (bright “memorable” colored clothes and a DAMN, I’M GOOD t-shirt) to her “no man can satisfy all of me” attitude. For worse or for better, men influence how women act, whether it be giving them an inflated sense of self-confidence, or giving them a sense of fear or caution.

The Bean Trees explains how men can shape the personalities, attitudes, and characters of women, sometimes boosting their confidence, sometimes depriving women of their confidence. The Bean Trees forces the reader to focus on women in
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