Beans by Patricia Grace

In Beans by Patricia Grace we have the theme of hard-work, enthusiasm, innocence, independence, gratitude, nature and appreciation. Taken from her The Dream Sleepers collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed boy and the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Grace may be exploring the theme of hard-work. The narrator has a difficult cycle on his way to the rugby grounds. However this does not dilute his enthusiasm. In fact there is nothing in the story that will dampen the narrator’s positive attitude. He remains positive throughout the story. In fact Grace appears to be using the colour green in the story to symbolize how happy in life the narrator is. What is also interesting is the fact that Grace, through her use of the colour green, may be suggesting a rejuvenation in the narrator. As mentioned there is nothing that appears to get him down. Even if he loses the game of rugby he remains enthusiastic.

If anything the narrator appreciates the point he has reached in life. As the story title suggests. The narrator is full of beans. This too may be important as it could suggest an innocence within the narrator. They have yet to be beaten by life. Though not a coming of age story there could be the possibility that the narrator has yet to experience a down side in his life. The smell of the pigs, which the narrator deeply inhales, is also interesting as Grace symbolically could be suggesting the importance of nature in one’s life. Most people would be repulsed by the smell of a pig but not the narrator. He even goes as far as calling the smell ‘joyous’. The link to poetry could also symbolize how happy the narrator is in his academic pursuits. He may not remember the name of the poem he is quoting but he has a fair idea of the line contained in the poem.

There may be other symbolism in the story which might be important. The narrator’s bicycle and his non reliance on others to get him to the rugby grounds could suggest an independence in the narrator’s life. We know he is too young to be totally independent of others but he is as independent as a boy can be. The lemons that the boy eats could symbolize the gratitude the boy feels for his life. There is no mention of machinery in the story, except for the bicycle and trucks, and this could suggest the further importance of nature. The land has yet to be torn by machinery or over populated. The narrator in fact meets nobody on his journey. If anything there is a bliss to be found in a rural community.

The end of the story is interesting as the happiness the narrator feels is mirrored by the happiness the old woman who lives next to him feels. She thinks the narrator is living a happy life and is full of beans. This is a compliment which mirrors the narrator’s appreciation of the landscape around him. There appears to be nothing, as of yet, that can put a dampener on the way the narrator feels. He is at one with nature and his friends. However though the story is full of appreciation the reader feels as though things may not stay the same for the narrator. Underneath the lines of the story is a sense that all will not remain the same.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Beans by Patricia Grace." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 19 Nov. 2023. Web.

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