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Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver

Chapters 5–7

Chapters 3–4

Chapters 7–9

Summary

Chapter 5: The Semilla Besada

Monday morning, Codi goes to Emelina's for breakfast. J.T. is in El Paso because the train he conducts was involved in accident, and he has to stay for an investigation. The kids get ready to go to day camp, and the women talk about the family. Emelina explains that the derailment was due to a problem with the track, but all of the men had to take a drug test anyway, and J.T. is concerned because he just ate poppy seed cake. Two other men they had known in high school, including Loyd Peregrina also work on the train, and Emelina informs Codi that Loyd lives nearby,. Codi has a strong reaction to this information. Codi explains the end of her relationship with Carlo: she had wanted him to "tell me the secret to a meaningful life" and finally realized that he could not do that. Holding Emelina's baby, Codi thinks briefly about how she almost became a mother.

Codi thinks about how she and Hallie referred to Emelina's grandmother as Abuelita when they were young. Abuelita and most of the other women in town called the sisters huerfanas, orphan girls, although they did not realize the girls understood Spanish when they did so.

Emelina and Codi spend the day visiting with the people in the town who appear to feel as out of place with Codi as she feels with them. Codi thinks about how Doc Homer instilled in her and Hallie the notion that they were different from their peers because of the family to which they belonged. Revisiting Grace fills Codi with memories. She can't sleep and walks out wondering if she can still find her way to Doc Homer's. She remembers, paradoxically since she knows she was not present, the day of her mother's death when she was three years old. Her mother had never flown and hated the idea. Her kidney was failing. A National Guard helicopter came to take her to the hospital, but she died before she could be lifted off the ground. In her musings, Codi stumbles on the path for which she was looking. She turns back, deciding to wait until morning to visit Doc Homer.

Chapter 6: The Miracle

Codi remembers herself at fifteen. She remembers carrying her baby, and the dreams she had about losing it. In one of her four dates with Loyd Peregrina, Codi had gotten pregnant. She told no one, not even Loyd or Hallie. Codi feels that the pregnancy and its secrecy kept her distant from the people she knew.

Analysis

Codi's troubled relationship to fertility is explained by the two events that framed her childhood: the deaths of her mother and of her unborn child. Pregnancy for Codi is linked not to the creation but to the destruction of life. Similarly, for Codi, love is attached to loss. An orphan has no family. While Codi tried to establish herself as having a family by calling an older woman abuelita (grandmother), that very same woman insisted on Codi's separation from any family, with the designation "orphan." Especially in a town where almost everyone is related in some way, having no family symbolizes having no community. The families of Grace are connected by their common descent from the Gracela sisters. The sisters came to the area from Spain, so we can assume that in addition to their blue eyes and their peacocks, they also contributed to the prevalence of the Spanish language in the town. As they thought that Codi and Hallie did not speak Spanish, the older women of the town assumed another level of separation between the girls and the community. Codi and Hallie did understand Spanish, but never told anyone, perpetuating the belief in their outsider status.

Codi's confusion about her memory of her mother's death is consistent with the confusing flow between past and present and between dreams and memories. Secrecy causes these confusions. Secrecy is also responsible for the separations between community members that disrupt the conservation of true memory. Codi was born into her father's secrecy and distance from the other community members, but she furthered the tradition by withholding knowledge of her pregnancy from Loyd, her sister, her friends, and—as far as she knew—from her father as well. In dreams and dreamlike states, however, even memories and connections that are blurred by secrets are able to reemerge. Thus while Codi thinks that she has lost her connection to the layout of Grace, as soon as she lets go of consciously looking for the path to her father's house, she finds it.

Codi's relationship with men is caught between two opposing poles. On the one hand, she desperately wants to find a man who will give meaning to her life. On the other, she does not allow herself to love anyone because she fears that as with her mother and her child, those whom she loves will end up leaving her. The one person she does allow herself to truly love is her sister Hallie. And although she cannot accept the direct love of a man, she does accept Carlo's love indirectly: she accepts the idea that she and Carlo can be connected through their mutual love for Hallie. This understanding of their relationship appears to be primarily an invention of Codi's, as Carlo never seems to express any particularly erotic feelings toward Hallie. At the opening of the story, Hallie leaves Codi, although they remain connected through letters, and Codi leaves Carlo.

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