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Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver

Chapters 13–14

Summary Chapters 13–14

On Halloween, Codi takes Emelina's children trick-or-treating while Emelina stays home to hand out candy with the baby. For the Day of the Dead, Codi joins Emelina's family and the rest of the town, at the cemetery, cleaning and planting new flowers, just as she did when she was younger. From the graveyard, they can see the beginnings of the dam. Viola tells Codi that the men on the council have decided to file a lawsuit, which could last about ten years. When Codi asks if anyone has publicized the problem, Viola reminds her that no one cares much about a small town like Grace. Wandering around the cemetery trying to gather up Emelina's sons, Codi finds the Nolina plot, including a grave with the name Homero Nolina, almost the same as her father. Viola tells her that, contrary to coming from Illinois as Codi believed, the Nolinas came from Tortoise River, further up the canyon. One of the Nolinas had married one of the five famous Gracela sisters but that they had never fit in well. Before they leave, Codi puts a marigold on Homero Nolina's grave.

Analysis

Although he was never direct, Doc Homer carefully followed every detail of Codi's pregnancy. His inability to talk with her even as he listened to her having a miscarriage shows the extreme difficulty of father-daughter communications. Codi's continuous sense of the absence of a mother figure in her life suggests that the problem is not simply one of parents and children, but particularly one of fathers and daughters. Although Doc Homer knows everything about the medical processes of pregnancy and childbirth, he knows nothing of how to talk with his own daughter about her pregnancy, even about the medical aspects of it. If he had been able to talk to her about it, Doc Homer might have been able to prevent the miscarriage, which was probably due to Codi's severe malnourishment during the pregnancy. Codi connects the loss of her child to the loss of her mother by wrapping the baby's body in her mother's sweater. By burying the body by the riverbed, she also connects the death of the baby to the death of the coyote pups that she and Hallie had been unable to prevent years before on the night of the rainstorm. Although he is unable to help Codi directly, he does follow her at a distance, making sure that she is safe and also preserving for memory the location of the child's burial. Ironically, by the time he tells Codi that he knew about her pregnancy, he will no longer have enough of his mind intact to tell her where that location is. In addition, when Codi returns home and asks him for aspirin, Doc Homer instead gives her pills that will ease the pain without causing more bleeding. Years later, Codi remembers this detail and realizes that it was part of his attempt to communicate with her.

Rita Cardenal's pregnancy serves as a device to uncover both Doc Homer's and Codi's secrets. When he examines Rita, Doc Homer gives her all of the information about nutrition that he wished he had given to Codi. And when Codi hears that Rita will have to drop out of school because of the pregnancy, Codi gives all of her classes the lesson in birth control that she would have needed to hear in order to prevent her own pregnancy. Each step that Codi makes to address the problems and secrets of her past brings her greater success in the present. She conducts the classes on birth control thinking that the school board will not approve, but this is inconsequential to her because she does not want to teach again the following year. These very same classes as well as her attitude of not caring what the school board thinks seal her popularity among the students and contribute to her actually receiving an offer to stay on at the school.

On the Day of the Dead, Codi uncovers the secret that Doc Homer had hoped to hide from her by keeping her away form that celebration during her childhood: the Nolina graves. Codi realizes that her father's contention that his last name was Nolina and that his family was from Illinois may not be true. Viola confirms that Doc Homer's family is in fact from that area and that he himself is a descendant of the Gracela sisters, but she refuses to go into any more detail. Codi realizes that she is not as much of an outsider to Grace as she has always believed and begins to search further for her family's past.