In "The Bean Trees" (Chapter 11), why does Taylor tell Lou Ann she's "too good of a mother"?

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In chapter 11, “Dream Angels,” Taylor tells Lou Ann that she is “too good of a mother” to calm Lou Ann’s fears.

At least, that is superficial reason. In a complex book like The Bean Trees, it is unlikely to be the whole story. Why?

Because the motivations of complex characters, who are like real people, are rooted not only in the moment but also in the larger context of the conversation and the even larger context of the characters' tendencies and experiences. Part of what makes Kingsolver’s characters so believable is that most of they say to each other is charged with multiple meanings that flow from relationships and internal feelings.

So, in this case, you should consider what Taylor said to Lou Ann only a few moments before:

You were just looking for a disaster, that’s all. You can’t deny you hunt for them, Lou Ann, even in the paper.

What is Taylor accusing Lou Ann of? What is the tone of this accusation? Playful? Resentful? Weary? Is she trying to get Lou Ann to wake up to her own tendencies or to stifle her complaining because it awakens guilt in Taylor?

How does understanding that context and their relationship affect your answer above?

Still not sure? Look at the conversation that takes place a month later when they discuss Lou Ann’s work responsibilities:

In three weeks’ time she had been promoted to floor manager, setting some kind of company record, but she [Lou Ann] refused to see this as proof that she was a good worker.

Is Taylor feeling resentful or supportive towards Lou Ann—or a mixture of both? Root out those feelings— and support them with evidence from the text. Then give a complete answer as to why Taylor said what she did, an answer that goes beneath the surface.

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Because Lou Ann seems to be much more patient and protective of her child, Dwayne Ray than is Taylor or many other mothers. Though Lou Ann puts herself down constantly, Taylor is able to reassure her somewhat with these words:

"Dwayne Ray will always know that, no matter what, you're never going to neglect him. You'll never just sit around and let him dehydrate, or grow up without a personality, or anything like that. And that would be ever so much worse. Your read about it happening in the paper all the time." I meant it; she did. "Somebody forgetting a baby in a car and letting it roast, or some such thing. If anything,Lou Ann, you're just too good of a mother."

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