In The Bean Trees, Marietta (Missy) has succeeded in graduating high school by avoiding getting pregnant and dropping out of school as a teen. She has successfully applied for a laboratory assistant position at the local hospital and has worked there for five and half years conducting tests on patient samples.
Missy has always held a dream of leaving Kentucky independent of her determination to avoid teen pregnancy and graduated from high school--both being goals that she accomplished. Once she has saved enough money, from working for five and a half years, to travel and buy an antiquated Volkswagen car, she then leaves Kentucky and gets as far as Oklahoma before her trip is called for car repairs. This information is all in Chapter 1.