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Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver

Chapters 24–26

Chapters 22–24

Chapters 27–28

Summary

Chapter 24: The Luckiest Person Alive

The Minister of Agriculture calls Codi to tell her they have found Hallie's body and some of her personal belongings. Codi is in shock. Loyd drives her to the Mexican consulate in Tucson to pick up a letter describing what was found. When they pass the scene of a deadly car accident, Codi is overcome by despair. She tries to ignore Loyd's attempts to calm her and shifts back and forth between denial and depression.

Chapter 25: Flight

In early June, Codi leaves Grace on a Greyhound, the same way she had come, bound to join Carlo in Telluride. Uda Dell and Mrs. Quintana will take care of Doc Homer. He does not understand when Codi bids him goodbye.

When Codi says goodbye to Loyd, she tells him she is leaving Grace because it make her miss Hallie too much. She is unable to respond to his warning that moving will not change her sense of loss. The day before she leaves, all of the women from the Stitch and Bitch Club come by to try to convince her to stay. In her parting, Viola confirms that Codi's mother was Doña Althea's cousin and also tells Codi that on the day her mother died, Viola had been taking care of Codi and Hallie. Although she was supposed to keep the girls at home, she had brought them up to the field so that they could say goodbye to their mother; Codi's memory of that event was real.

On the bus ride, Codi thinks about the outcome of the Stitch and Bitch Club's efforts. A week after they filed the Historic Places petition, the Black Mountain Mining Company announced that they had decided to shut down the mine and to pay for any cleanup that would be needed. The woman sitting next to Codi on the bus, Alice Kimball, strikes up a conversation with her, and it turns out that the woman had spoken to Hallie years earlier when Hallie worked at a pest control hotline. When Alice Kimball asks where Hallie is now, Codi replies only that she has left the country, and when Alice Kimball relates that to her own sister's death many years before, Codi vehemently denies that Hallie is dead. As their conversation progresses, however, Codi admits to the truth.

The plane Codi takes from Tucson to Denver has engine trouble in the air and has to turn back. Feeling all of her fears about flying about to be confirmed, Codi swears that if they land safely, she will never fly again.

Codi buys an Amtrak ticket going east from Tucson. Even though it's not a passenger stop, she gets off the train when it stops for a crew change in Grace. When the conductor warns her, "this isn't anywhere," Codi responds that it's where she lives. Loyd is on the Amtrak crew getting off at Grace. He and Codi leave the station together.

Chapter 26: The Fifty Mothers

Even though they do not have a body, Codi arranges a funeral for Hallie in the Domingos plum orchard; nearly the whole town participates. Codi asks everyone to bring something that reminded them of Hallie to the funeral, and as they lay them down, they share their memories of her as a child. Listening, Codi realizes that she does have her own memorie, and that they, and she, are part of Grace. As Doña Althea leaves, Codi says "Gracias, Abuelita" (Thank you, Grandma) to her. Although she does not respond, Doña Althea's silence acknowledges the connection. Codi wraps everything in the afghan she and Hallie used to curl up in together, which she has just realized that Uda Dell crocheted for them right after their mother died. She carries the bundle up toward Doc Homer's house.

Analysis

Codi leaves Grace the way she came, setting up a parallel structure in the action of the novel. A circular and cyclical pattern is established, as the loose ends are tied up. Whereas no one greeted Codi at her arrival in Grace, the entire town bids her farewell. In the process, they clarify the few remaining questions about Codi's family. The last details the women share with Codi also confirm the presence and the truth of her memories of her childhood. As Doc Homer becomes almost completely incapable of holding and ordering his memory, Codi is able to take on the role as the repository of her family history. Both Codi's personal memories and the town are saved. Codi also breaks the pattern of secrets and lies that she and her father had woven around their personal lives. Changing the pattern is shown to be a process, as Codi first tells a lie and then reveals the truth. She is shown to be slowly coming around to a comfort with being truthful and open about her family. As she resolves herself to the truth of her family history and of her memories, Codi also is able to feel herself become like her mother. Uda Dell's pronouncement that Codi looked just like her mother, upon her arrival in Grace, is not added to by Codi's realization that in action and belief she is like her mother, sharing her refusal to fly.

As she returns to Grace via train instead of Greyhound, Codi establishes a new pattern for her future. Her return, and her new pattern, are connected to her past family and also to her future one with Loyd, who works on the train. Returning to Grace, Codi gains many times over what she had lost. Where she lost one mother, she finds fifty. The word "orphans" has been replaced by the word "mothers," reestablishing the family connection between the girls and their community. Her new life in Grace will be one of abundance, of both past and future.

Without a body, the funeral Codi holds for Hallie is purely symbolic. Codi asks those who participate to offer a symbolic item for burial. They stand in the orchard surrounded by peacocks, symbols for Grace's past and, now, for its future too. Codi lays out the afghan she and Hallie used to sit in together, a symbol of her childhood and also, she learns, of the care of the community for her—the afghan was crocheted by Uda Dell just after their mother died. The marigolds Viola lays down on the blanket are the same flowers Codi laid on Homero Nolina's grave when she first found it in the cemetery, connecting Hallie to her local heritage. The women who lay items the girls had left at their house as children demonstrate that Codi and Hallie had been part of the community as children and that not only were there fifty mothers at the funeral, fifty mothers had helped to raise them their entire lives. Their symbolic memories stir Codi's real memory of her childhood, as she comes not only to hear about, but to believe in, her membership in the community.

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