In "The Bean Trees," what effect does Taylor's first person point of view have on the reader and the way they perceive the world?
Like any time first person narrative is used, the reader becomes intimately aware of the character, including her thoughts and perceptions. Therefore, the reader is almost forced (though it does not seem so when one is reading) to look at the world the way Taylor does. First person narrative allows the reader to understand Taylor's inner thoughts and reactions. In this way, even if the reader is a male or someone who seemingly has nothing in common with Taylor, the reader finds it easier to put him/herself into the life of the novel, making it more realistic and connecting to the personality of Taylor, ultimately becoming more sympathetic to her overall.
Each character has his or her own point of view in any story. In this one, we follow Taylor's rather roller-coaster journey through life and love and everything in between. If we just heard about her experiences, we wouldn't have much sympathy or understanding for her choices. Because we are privy to her thoughts and feelings, though, we do see Taylor as a sympathetic character.