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Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver

Chapters 17–19

Chapters 15–16

Chapters 20–21


Chapter 17: Peacock Ladies at the Café Gertrude Stein.

The Stitch and Bitch Club decides to make a huge number of piñatas to sell in Tucson as a fundraiser for the campaign against Black Mountain. In mid- December, Codi and Emelina accompany the ladies to the city. The fund- raiser is a huge success, and they sell a truckload of birds in a single day. They decide to come back in ten days with 500 peacocks, each accompanied by a written piece about Grace and its plight, which they designate Codi to write. Emelina and Codi stay the weekend with Carlo in Tucson. While Codi and Carlo are up late talking, they see the "Peacock ladies" on television. Carlo invites Codi to move to Denver or to Aspen with him, and she considers it, because it would involve few risks. On the way back to Grace, Codi and Emelina visit Colossal Cave and talk about Loyd. When the guide turns off all of the lights in the cave, Codi realizes that her recurring nightmare of losing her vision and her fear of the dark are connected to a larger fear of losing any idea of where she is in the world.

Chapter 18: Ground Orientation

Working non-stop and using every scrap of blue material in the town, the Stitch and Bitch club, Codi, and a great many of others, is able to make more than 250 peacocks in ten days. Twice as many people as the first time travel to Tucson to sell them, but Codi goes with Loyd to spend Christmas on the reservation.

On the way to the reservation, Loyd tells Codi he has given over the cockfighting business to his friend Collie Bluestone, who moved them to another Reservation. When Codi asks how he'll feel if they don't stay together, Loyd chides her that he didn't give up the cockfighting for her per se, but because he realized that he agreed with her objections. They talk about Loyd's twin brother, Leander. In Pueblo tradition, twins are bad luck. The two boys, nicknamed Twice as Bad, lived as if they were a single person, he says. As he tells Codi about Leander's death, he also tells her about how Jack escaped when his father drowned the rest of the litter. When they were fifteen, Loyd and his brother moved to Whiteriver to be with their father and become men. Leander was killed in a fight in a bar of puncture wounds and internal hemorrhaging.

They drive down into the valley at the bottom of the Navajo tribal land, and sleep in the truck to wake up right in front of Spider Rock. Loyd explains that it's named after Spider Woman, who exists in both Pueblo and Navajo stories. As they hike around, Loyd asks Codi if she ever thinks about having children. She almost tells him about their child. They talk about Loyd's family. In describing his parents and aunts, he gives Codi a lesson in Native American history, explaining the difference between Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache, as well as the matrilineal system. Codi is impressed by Loyd's deep care for and understanding of the land and its products. They drive further, still talking about their respective childhoods. Loyd's aunt Sonia has a pecan and a peach orchard in Grace that he worked on as a teenager; he will inherit the peach orchard as soon as he has children. Codi lists for Loyd her strange job history and tells him stories about her time in Crete, sharing more with him than she does even with Emelina because somehow he never makes her feel like an outsider. Loyd takes her into the Jemez Mountains and then leads her on a hike through the snow to a natural hotspring. As they swim, Codi asks Loyd if he was ever in love with Hallie. Loyd barely remembers Hallie.

On Christmas Eve, Codi opens the last of Hallie's most recent letters. In it, Hallie admonishes Codi for thinking she is not good enough and for expecting there to be some perfect, divine answer in the world about what she should do with her life. The letter makes Codi cry, and think, "I'd spent a long time circling above the clouds, looking for life, while Hallie was living it."

Chapter 19: The Bread Girl

Santa Rosalia Pueblo blends in so perfectly with the landscape that Codi doesn't notice they are approaching it until they arrive. At Loyd's mother's house, his sister greets them, speaking with Loyd in Keresan. His sisters, aunts and his mother Inez greet Codi warmly, but she feels very out of place. That night, more relatives join them for the enormous feast Inez and the other women have prepared. Of the over twenty dishes, Codi recognizes only the lime Jell-O. She enjoys it all, especially the bread of which she eats so much that the family nicknames her the Bread Girl.

Christmas in Santa Rosalia brings a whole day of dances. Codi and Loyd sit on the roof of his mother's house to watch. Codi asks Loyd about his father. Loyd also reveals that although is mother was aware that his father fought cocks, she did not approve and never knew Loyd had followed in his father's footsteps. If his renunciation of cockfighting was for anyone, Codi realizes, it was for his mother. Codi thinks about Hallie's letter and her own inability to commit to loving and settling down with anyone. She does not trust that anyone she loves will stay with her, indicating that she has been marked so deeply by the deaths of her mother and of her child. Looking around the town, Codi comments on some of the older houses that look like they are falling apart. In a value system that does not privilege material possessions, Loyd explains, it is important only to build a house that can be reintegrated into the land when you are done with it and to be able to build another. Codi tries to interpret this as supporting her practice of always moving on, but Loyd qualifies, "It's one thing to carry your life wherever you go. Another thing to always go looking for it somewhere else." As they watch the dances, Loyd explains the Pueblo belief system to Codi in more detail, especially in terms of humans' relationships with the earth; she compares it to Anglo belief systems and finds the Pueblo to make much more sense. In the midst of all of the dancing, the man dressed as Koshari, the fertility kachina or fertility god, comes over to Loyd and Codi to dance and tease about an upcoming marriage for them.


In addition to their support of violent measures, the women of the Stitch and Bitch club make use of their craft making talents to save the river. The peacock piñatas are a symbol of Grace. As she is recruited to write the note detailing their cause that accompanies the peacocks, Codi's role in her community is emphasized. She utilizes precisely the skills that she learned outside of Grace—biology, chemistry, and writing skills—for the service of the community. In this action, Codi is established as the perfect prodigal daughter, who left her home, learned in the world, and came back to protect her own family with her newly acquired knowledge. Neither college education nor local craftsmanship is given higher value, as they must be combined to save Grace. The use of the peacocks to raise money also shows that the women of the Stitch and Bitch Club are able to use the prejudices of the outside world, which see Grace as nothing but a quaint town in the middle of nowhere, to their own benefit. Rather than fighting against the prejudice, they simply cash in on it. Using their profits to save Grace, they demonstrate that it is in fact a vital community and one that has developed unique traditions. Also, by integrating elements such as the jackets of an encyclopedia as the materials for the piñatas, the women show that their art is not simply folklore, but a blend of tradition and modernity.

Although Loyd and Codi share an ever-deepening relationship, they both have a primary connection with a sibling. However, both Loyd's twin brother Leander and Codi's sister Hallie are not present in their lives. Leander was killed in a bar brawl, and although Codi doesn't know it yet, over Christmas Hallie is abducted by the Contras. The parallels between their two lives allow them to share on a much deeper level. Also, While Codi and Hallie tried to save a litter of coyote pups from a flood, Loyd rescued a half-coyote puppy from drowning at his father's hands. Loyd is the first person Codi has talked with who has experienced a loss that seems as great as hers. Leander died of the very same wounds that kill the birds in cockfights—hemorrhaging and puncture wounds. As Codi learns of this and of Loyd's mother's disapproval of the cockfights, she realizes that her objections were not the reason he gave up cockfighting.

Loyd is a fertile character, in large part connected to his status as a Native American. Thanks to his understanding of Native American cosmology and to his being raised on the Reservation, Loyd has a profound understanding of how to carefully cultivate the fertile land. The land, as it is often called mother earth, is a metaphor for the mother. The man who knows how to cultivate the earth then metaphorically knows how to bear and raise children. The primary figure described at the Christmas Day dance at Santa Rosalia Pueblo is the Koshari kachina, who is a fertility god. Native American religion generally then, and Loyd as the embodiment of it, are directly linked to fertility. In addition, Koshari dances around the house Loyd and Codi sit on together, blessing them as a fertile couple. Through her reconnection with her community and her association with Loyd, Codi is able to become fertile not only in terms of an ability to bear children, but also in terms of an ability to care for the earth and the community.

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