Pigs in Heaven

by: Barbara Kingsolver

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

"They're good bees if you love them, and Boma does. A bird wouldn't know enough to hate a bee, I don't think. Do you?" Alice has already decided that Heaven is a hard stone's throw beyond her ken. "I wouldn't know," she says, which is the truth. Nothing in her life has prepared her to make a judgment on a war between bees and ostriches. As they walk past Boma's mailbox, which has been fashioned from a length of drainpipe and wire basket, Alice hears the faint, distant thrum of the hive. She makes up her mind that for as long as her mission takes, on this stretch of Heaven's road at least, it would be a good idea to love Boma's bees.

This passage comes right after Alice has arrived in Heaven, Oklahoma. She finds Heaven poor and rundown, not at all living up to its name. The lines refer to a comical feud between Boma Mellowbug, the town's beloved crazy, and the rich ostrich farm owner. Boma's character provides greater insight into the communal values of the Native American people. She is an eccentric, funny old woman, but in the Cherokee community she is valued for her prophetic wisdom, and her zany creativity. The image of the mailbox made resourcefully from wire and drainpipe is only one example of Boma's eccentric spirit. The author also describes in detail her house, part of which is made out of an old school bus, and her tree, that everyone in the community helps her decorate with old containers, glass, and bottles. Boma's home is juxtaposed with the rich ostrich farmer's, but Alice immediately loves Boma's more. Annawake has commented that the Cherokee community does not condemn people for a lack of self- sufficiency. What Boma offers the community is irreplaceable, and the love her for who she is.

Boma's bees symbolize the fine line between eccentricity and wisdom. Keeping bees under one's roof may seem ridiculous, but it also requires a special personality. Boma knows how to live with the bees without getting stung, since her personality is the kind that the bees respect. Like her bees, Boma is respected and loved by her community, regardless of how crazy she may seem to an outsider. Alice's commitment to love Boma's bees represents a larger sentiment growing inside her about the Cherokee people and Nation.