In the early pages of The Bean Trees, we see that the protagonist, Marietta, has a conflict with the culture around her. It is this conflict that compels Marietta to pack up her 1955 Volkswagen bug and leave her home in Pittman County, Kentucky, USA.
The cause of her conflict with the culture in Kentucky is her ambition to at all costs avoid teen pregnancy, a commodity Kentucky is rich in. Therefore, because of this conflict with her culture, Marietta says goodbye to her supportive mother and her job in the hospital lab and strikes out as far as she can go, which is to Taylorville where she runs out of gas. She renames herself Taylor Greer and ironically accepts responsibility for an abandoned Cherokee baby and ironically takes an inferior job as a maid at a hotel.