Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver
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Summary

Chapters 7–9

Summary Chapters 7–9

Arriving at the high school for the first day of classes, Codi remembers when she was a student there. That night, she and Emelina talk about school and about the events in town. Viola and her friends hold a meeting of the Stitch and Bitch Club in the living room, talking in Spanish about the peacocks and the fruit trees.

When Emelina asks her to look at a lump on Mason's hand, Codi acquiesces but is filled with discomfort at finding herself viewed as a doctor since she does not have her medical license. The two women continue to muse over old high school memories. In the day's mail, a letter arrived for Codi from Hallie, dated a few weeks earlier. In the letter, Hallie tells of her drive through Mexico. Codi considers with what depth of emotion Hallie has always reacted to other peoples' pain.

On Friday night, Loyd shows up at Codi's door. They talk about the railroad and Loyd's dog Jack. Loyd, who is part Apache, tells Codi a little about Native American folklore and about his past. He grew up with his twin brother, who has since died, in Santa Rosalia Pueblo, where his mother still lives. Loyd has to leave because he is on call at the railroad, but he invites her to drive up to Whiteriver with him the following weekend; Codi accepts.

Analysis

The first four chapters established a pattern of switching between narrators at each chapter. The structure of the novel, however, does not continue this evenly. Codi emerges as the primary narrator not only because of her first person voice, but also because of the number of chapters which feature that voice. While Homer's chapters tend to be fairly short, Cosima's vary in length. Also, while Doc Homer lives increasingly in the past, Codi simultaneously reconstructs her past and builds her future.

Doc Homer shows many signs of being completely disconnected from his community. However, he is the town doctor. He is well known to the townspeople, and is surreptitiously cared for by the older women. In addition, his article on its genetics demonstrates a deep interest in the community. Doc Homer's relationship to those around him may take place in the form of doctor-patient relations and scientific research, but the connection is still present nonetheless.

Although Grace looks to Codi exactly as it did when she left it, she overhears the men talking about a significant change. Grace was a mining town for years. It was also set in a fertile valley where families raised pecan and fruit orchards. As the mine lost importance, the men turned to the railway for jobs but also kept up their orchards. Now the orchards are showing signs of destruction from the mine's waste. Industry will become paired with government institutions to demonstrate the devastating effects of inattention to the land. Concern over the fruit tree drop seems to be limited to the men of the town, as they talk amongst themselves. They trust the government institutions, in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to remedy the situation. Although they do not talk about it with the men, it turns out that the women are also concerned about the trees. Their relationship to established patriarchal systems is quite different from the men's. They talk about the trees at their sewing club, showing that their roles as mothers and homemakers is intimately connected to their concern for the welfare of the land.