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Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver

Chapters 10–12

Chapters 7–9

Chapters 13–14

Summary

Chapter 10: The Mask

Doc Homer examines a pregnant teenager and thinks about Codi's pregnancy. He knows that she is in her fifth or sixth month, but does not know how to tell her as much. Feeling responsible and helpless, he is unable to say or do anything.

Chapter 11: A River on the Moon

The day before Codi and Loyd are supposed to go to Whiteriver, Loyd is called in at work for a weeklong trip. Helping J.T. to prune the trees, Codi finds out that in Loyd's spare time he fights cocks. Codi is disturbed by the news of Loyd's cockfighting, but J.T. explains that it has to do with carrying on a family tradition, and Codi respects his warning to hold off judgment.

Loyd visits Codi with some regularity, and they develop a comfortable friendship, although Codi tries not to become to attached to wanting him to be there. One night they kiss, prompting Codi to have a strange dream in which she tells Hallie about the kiss and Hallie ignores her. Codi's dream life is rather active other nights as well. She dreams of Carlo, who has written her a friendly letter. She remembers when she and Carlo first got together, during their internships in medical school. Then her mind wanders to the year that Carlo worked at a clinic in rural Crete. She refers again to the fact that she did not have a license to practice medicine. Commenting on her slight discomfort with a life spent following her boyfriend, she provides a few more details about her lack of a medical license, explaining that she had dropped out of medical school during her last months of residency. She refers again to an incident with a difficult birth.

The school year progresses. Codi establishes a fairly good relationship with her students. On an especially hot day, they go to the river and collect water samples to look at under microscopes. When they try to examine the life forms they find in the water, however, they discover that there are absolutely none. They test the pH and find that the water has in incredibly high acid content. Appalled, Codi talks to Viola about the water. Viola explains the dumping from Black Mountain and informs her that the Environmental Protection Agency only requires that Black Mountain divert the water away from where people live. In order to do this, they will damn the river and deprive the orchards of all their water. The question has already been discussed at a town meeting, and there appears to be no alternative.

On a Saturday night in October, Codi accompanies Emelina to a dance concert at the outdoor restaurant run by Doña Althea's family. The two women talk about J.T. and other old acquaintances. Emelina teases Codi about her date the next day with Loyd. In an attempt to deal with her expectation that Loyd would not remain interested in her for long, Codi tells Emelina that they would not make a good couple. As they talk, the baby chokes, and Codi saves his life. Codi is as perturbed as Emelina is grateful over her intervention. Codi sleeps in the baby's room that night, thinking about Loyd and realizing that despite her protests to Emelina, she will have sex with him.

Chapter 12: Animal Dreams

On Sunday morning, Codi struggles over her outfit until Loyd arrives. On the way out of town, they stop at the post office, and Codi gets another letter from Hallie, dated three weeks earlier. In the short letter, Codi writes that she is settling down happily in Nicaragua, helping a farming collective to improve their cultivation practices. She adds that she of course remembers the day in the riverbank and is surprised that Codi might not. The letter prompts Codi to ask Loyd if there is anything for which he would die. His answer, "the land," is not clear to Codi.

They enter the Apache reservation fifteen minutes north of Grace, and Loyd explains some of the history of land ownership in the region. While Loyd buys his birds, Codi waits outside, listening and observing the reservation life. They continue driving north, talking about Loyd's youth in the area. As they go on, Loyd puts his hand on Codi's thigh, which she enjoys immensely. They stop at the Kinishba, which Loyd describes as eight hundred year-old "prehistoric condos," built by his mother's people, the Pueblo Indians. Loyd explains the architecture and irrigation systems, until Codi pulls him over and begins to kiss him. They end up making love. As they talk later, Loyd reveals that he has never brought another person to that spot but that he had been looking forward to introducing Codi to it for a long time. He also apologizes for being so inconsiderate of her when they were in high school. For a moment, Codi thinks he will apologize for getting her pregnant, but, to her relief, he appears to have no idea. Next, they wonder about Jack's and then other animals' dreams, as Loyd tells Codi that he cares for her a great deal and impresses her deeply with his interest in her thoughts, which are similar to his.

Analysis

Although he was unable to communicate with his daughters, Doc Homer was incredibly concerned about and involved with their lives. His incapacity to tell them what he knew, however, often prevented him from being of immediate assistance. It is only as he begins to lose his mind that he can tell them how much he has always known. However, his illness often prevents him from communicating directly and clearly with anyone, and he ends up saying to a current patient what he meant to say decades earlier to Codi. As the only doctor in Grace, Doc Homer has assisted in almost every pregnancy and birth in the town. In this way, he is one of the few men to be closely linked to fertility.

The prevalence of cock fighting on the Reservation undoes any simple idealization of Native American culture in the novel. Just an all other communities, life on the Reservation is plagued with problems such as alcoholism and destructive behavior. It is impossible, however, to simply judge any one action or even any pattern of behavior as good or as bad. Loyd's cockfighting, for example, is part of his connection to his father, and cockfighting in general is a relatively harmless distraction for the men and women on the Reservation. Although ultimately Codi still disapproves of cockfighting, she also allows herself to understand it and to see that her judgment is a personal one with which she cannot expect everyone to agree.

Codi's relationship to her medical skills is incredibly troubled. Although she is able to use her skills to help people and even to save a life, she is haunted by her lack of a license and the as yet undisclosed event that led to her leaving medical school. More than just the realization that she does not have a license to practice medicine, Codi does not want to be viewed as a lifesaver. Saving lives, in her mind, is the concern of Doc Homer and Hallie, not of hers.

Although she was aware of a problem, Codi does not become involved in Grace's river until a chance school project brings it home to her. Codi is not a crusader; she does not want to be involved in causes. However, when a problem presents itself to her, she does not ignore it. After understanding the enormous damage being caused by the mine, Codi takes the step of asking Viola about it directly. Codi would like to trust, as the men do, in the effectiveness of the Environmental Protection Agency.

In her relationship with Loyd, Codi takes an active role. She is comfortable and confident in her sexuality. Although in her memories of Loyd in high school he was a sexually voracious teenager who slept with as many girls as he could, now he and Codi are on equal footing sexually. He is the one to speak first of caring for her. The novel presents sexuality in matter-of-fact terms. Theirs is not a case of love at first sight, but of slow, stuttering development. The romance between Codi and Loyd is important, but it is not idealized and does not take precedence over the elements of the story, just as their sexual attraction for one another does not overrun their emotional connection. In fact, Codi seems to be as attracted to Loyd's sense of history and community as she is to his body.

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