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Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver

Chapters 15–16

Chapters 13–14

Chapters 15–16, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 15: Mistakes

That night, Codi stops by Doc Homer's to ask him about the grave with his name on it and the possibility of their having any relatives from the area. Confused by his lapse of memory as to who Codi is and what she is asking him, Doc Homer ignores her questions and tells her he is busy.

Chapter 16: Bleeding Hearts

Winter arrives. Codi gives up on her father's family but tries to find out more about her mother. Despite what she had been told as a child, Viola assures Codi that her mother died of complications relating to Hallie's birth. Viola also tells Codi that everyone besides Doc Homer called her mother Althea, but when Codi asks if she is in some way related to Doña Althea, Viola will say no more.

The Stitch and Bitch Club holds a meeting about the river, at which Codi is Viola's guest speaker. Codi explains the chemical aspect of the pollution. To Codi's surprise, the women ask her if there is any way to recover the river water. Codi concedes that if Black Mountain stopped dumping chemicals into the water, it would eventually return to being safe. After Doña Althea translates Codi's speech into Spanish, the women begin to discuss immediate measures. Officially, they plan mass demonstrations to start the next morning and unofficially support vandalism of the mining company's equipment.

Hallie sends another letter telling of the assassination of three of the local teenage girls.

Loyd often spends the night at Codi's; she finds he is a perfect cure for her insomnia. But when she mentions the Lone Ranger and Tonto to him one day, he accuses her of thinking of him like a TV Indian, "dumb but cute." It turns out that he would like to have more than a casual relationship with her. She protests that she's not going to be around for long because she is still searching for a feeling of home and a sense of purpose in life, but he accuses her of thinking he is not good enough for her. Loyd does understand her sense of not belonging, however, and invites her to a cockfight. Codi accompanies Loyd to the next cockfight on the reservation. She is sickened by the sight but appreciates the bond Loyd shares with his birds. On the way back, they talk about how much cockfighting bothers Codi. Loyd says he'll give up cockfighting for her.

Analysis

Alzheimer's disease affects the memory as well the capacity to communicate. In this way, the disease accentuates the particular difficulties that Doc Homer already showed even in perfect health. Ironically, as the disease sets in Codi begins to press Doc Homer to communicate, and he becomes willing to do so but is often prevented by the disease. Similarly, Doc Homer had tried to erase certain elements of his past by changing his name and pretending to forget that his family came from the Gracela valley. Again, just as Codi begins to ask him direct questions about these facts, the Alzheimer's disease affects his memory so that he truly experiences gaps where he once would have to create them. Doc Homer has always simply changed the subject when a subject arose which he did not want to discuss. Now when Codi asks him about his last name, he cannot remember who she is and attempts to keep his hold on reality by talking about the one thing he is able to remember. To Codi, this method of coping with the disease looks exactly like his lifelong method of coping with unwanted questions. She is unable to distinguish either his change in attitude about communicating with her or the signs of his disease.

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