The Bean Trees


Taylor's fears
In the Story, The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingslover we see a character named Taylor overcome several fears that she has. Taylor Greer, a woman who once saw a man being thrown several feet up into the air shortly after his tractor tire blew up, never did really like tires. She always seemed to think that the same thing might happen to her if she ever did something like, overfilling it too much with air. Her mom, who was fairly normal, decided to test Taylor's tire-changing-skills shortly after she bought her ?55 Volkswagen. She knew what to do in a case of emergency but she was afraid to do it.

Mattie, the sole owner of a shop named "Jesus is Lord Used Tires", was accustomed to changing and rotating tires everyday. One day she received a customer who had driven over some cracked glass pieces on the side of the road. Mattie took standard procedures by lifting the car, taking out the tire, and finally dipping it to see if air bubbles would come up. "I'm sorry to tell you, hon, these are bad. I can tell you right now these aren't going to hold a patch. They're shot through." (page 40). Mattie was exceptionally nice to Taylor and told her to come inside and have some coffee. After drinking a cup of coffee and giving Turtle some juice Mattie came up with the idea that Taylor could work for her. Taylor being the one who doesn't like tires in the first place accepted the generous offer, but went almost nuts with the huge tire wall that surrounded her. Taylor was a good worker and didn't have any real complaints about her position, but she still had a fear of exploding tires. This fear was noticeable to Mattie. Mattie being the rough-tough but nice person, asked Taylor nicely to follow her, when suddenly Mattie threw a 5-gallon Jerry can at her. "Knocked the wind out of you, but it didn't kill you, right?" "That's twenty-eight pounds of water. Twenty-eight pounds of air is about what you put into a tire. When it hits you, that's what it feels like." (page 81).

When I was about 10 years old, my mom took me to a roller coaster theme park in Massachusetts. I was terribly afraid of the huge roller coaster that appeared in front of me, and while I waited in line, the anxiety of waiting to die in a roller coaster made my heart beat through my chest. The huge coaster went up and down and up and down, and even though my mom continuously asked me if I was sure that I wanted to go, I repeatedly said yes. I wanted to make it clear that I was a man, not some cry baby. Stepping onto that roller coaster was what I remember the most. The tight grip of my sweaty hands onto the safety bar, and seeing the people in front of me lifting their arms into the air even before the ride started. The first drop was the most terrifying moment of my life. I remember screaming and yelling for someone to help me get off the ride, but unfortunately the ride continued. Shortly after I got off the ride I realized that everyone who had been in the ride with me, including my mom, were laughing and telling how they enjoyed themselves.

I can clearly understand what Taylor was feeling when she first saw that man being thrown up by the exploding tire, and then later having to work in a place where the notion of exploding tires was surrounding her. Myself on the other hand, wanted to know what it felt like to be thrown up and down on a contraption called a roller coaster. Mattie helped Taylor to overcome her fear of exploding tires, by making her see what an exploding tire felt like. I calmed my fear when I saw that everyone who had come off the ride were happy and content, not terrified and worried. I think that both Taylor and I conquered our fears because we were brave and not scared of putting our fears to the test, but instead manipulating them to our benefit.