Does Lou Ann understand herself in "The Bean Trees"?

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Lou Ann understands herself, but she doesn't appreciate herself.  She doesn't see the caring, selfless person that she is, choosing to mostly criticize herself for bad decisions that she has made.  Those decisions have led her to criticize all aspects of her persona, from her looks to her intelligence.  However, she is still self-aware.  Lou Ann knows that she lacks confidence.  When she constantly comments that she looks "like something the cat puked up", she is aware that she is seeking reassurance.  She does it purposely.  When she begins to get reassurance from her new responsibilities at work, she stops disparaging herself.  She now has the confidence she was looking for, as proven by her choice not to return to Angel in the end.  She knows she no longer needs Angel, even if she doesn't articulate it specifically.

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