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Sample Persuasive Essay

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago

Students: I do not claim this is a perfect essay; it is a rough draft. However, it is an example of what I am looking for in a final draft of your persuasive essay.


"'It's like this,' I told Turtle, 'There's a whole invisible system for helping out the plant that you'd never guess was there.'" While browsing the library shelves in Oklahoma City, Taylor entertains Turtle with a description of how wisteria, a plant Turtle recognizes as a "bean tree," forms a sybiotic relationship with rhizobia that enables both life forms to be successful; without each other, neither could exist. Taylor tells Turtle that "it's just the same as with people. The way Edna has Virgie, and Virgie has Edna, and Sandi has Kid Central Station, and everybody has Mattie. And on and on." Taylor's discovery of the relationship between wisteria and rhizobia forms the essence of the novel; if the rest of the novel were destroyed, this quote at least must be preserved.


Taylor first thinks about wisteria, or "bean trees" in "Dog Doo Park," when she notices the barren vines in the park have sprung to bright purple life. She compares the blooms to the biblical story in which Moses miraculously draws water from a rock. Taylor does not realize it yet, but she is beginning to notice that miracles can happen when one least expects it. For example, Taylor left Kentucky in order to avoid becoming a young mother, but on her voyage, she is unexpectedly given charge of Turtle. Even though Taylor did not want to be a parent, she discovered the miracle of wisteria in Dog Doo Park, of water drawn from a rock, when she experiences the powerful love she comes to feel for Turtle.


Turtle's first word, "bean" is yet another reference to the book's title. Turtle utters her first word while she and Taylor are planting beans. Mattie argues that Taylor will confuse Turtle: "Those seeds don't look anything like what you're saying they'll grow into." Taylor shows Turtle a bean and relates the beans they are planting to the beans they eat. Turtle begins to understand that before it is planted, a bean is a dry seed; however, when it is planted and cared for, it can become a flourishing plant. Taylor later realizes that in adopting Turtle, she has enabled Turtle to flourish. She is able to reach her potential -- to learn to speak and to grow in spite of her history of abuse. Taylor's home with Lou Ann is the fertile soil that Turtle, the bean seed prevented from reaching her potential, needs in order to thrive.


Taylor finds the horticulture book and connects the description of the symbiotic relationship between rhizobia and wisteria to the support network she has established with Lou Ann, Mattie, and Estevan and Esperanza. Taylor discovers that wisteria often thrives in poor soil. Taylor compares this to hardships, such as Estevan and Esperanza's troubles in Guatemala and Lou Ann's rocky marriage, that ordinarily prevent people from being healthy, happy, or successful. However, the rhizobia, which Taylor describes as "microscopic bugs that live underground in little knots on the roots." The rhizobia pull nitrogen from the soil and convert it into fertilizer for the wisteria, enriching the soil and enabling the wisteria to survive. In the same way, people in The Bean Trees help enrich each other's lives. Together, Lou Ann and Taylor are stronger and happier than they were apart. Mattie helps Estevan and Esperanza find a permanent home in America. Virgie and Edna help each other overcome obstacles that would ordinarily prevent them from living outside an assisted-living home. If not for these relationships, the individual characters would not be able to function; however, because they form bonds similar to that of wisteria and rhizobia, they not only survive, they thrive.


The central theme of The Bean Trees is that people need one another in order to survive in the difficult circumstances under which they are born. As part of Turtle's vegetable soup, in which each person is a a necessary ingredient, Taylor discovers she is the "main ingredient." She is the rhizobia that allows Turtle to become a healthy plant. At the same time, when faced with losing Turtle, Taylor realizes that Turtle is the rhizobia that enables her to feel happiness and a sense of purpose. "The wisteria vines on their own would just barely get by," Taylor explained to Turtle, "but put them together with rhizobia and they make miracles."

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