Chapter 9: The Pigs in Heaven

Annawake comes back to Taylor's house again, finding only Jax. They make small talk for a while before Annawake begins asking about Taylor and Turtle. They have fled from home; Jax refuses to tell Annawake where they have gone. Annawake goes onto explain that the tribe could legally take Turtle back. Jax suggests that she does not realize she is dealing with "Mama bear."

Jax then angrily tells Annawake that she does not understand what this has meant for him—having to be abandoned by Taylor, the woman he loves. When Annawake reveals that she knows that Taylor's story of the adoption does not fit with the official records, which state that two parents willingly gave Turtle to Taylor. Jax explains that the two parents were actually undocumented Guatemalan immigrants and the adoption was a fake set-up.

When the stars start to come out, Annawake points out Pleides, the Seven sisters constellation that the Cherokee people call the "Six Pigs in Heaven." She tells a story of six naughty boys who played ball all day, refusing to do any work for their mothers or their community. One day, the mothers got so angry that they cook the balls the boys play with in a stew. The six boys solicited help from the spirits after disgustedly telling their mothers that this was pig food, but the spirits take sides with the mothers. The boys turn into pigs, and rise up to the sky.

Annawake tells Jax that the moral of all the Cherokee stories she knows is to do well by one's people. She suggests that the American myth is to do well by oneself. Jax suggests that Annawake and Taylor will never find common ground. Also, Annawake is currently the reason why Turtle is suffering more, as she is already dislocated from her Tucson home.

Chapter 10: The Horses

Meanwhile, Taylor and Turtle are eating at Angie Buster's diner, where Taylor has to tell Turtle to drink her milk. The two are staying at Angie's adjacent hotel, Casa Suerte. Walking back to their room, they run into a white- haired, mildly crazy woman who keeps asking if they have seen the horses. Turtle's thoughts are filled with fear. She keeps thinking of the "old place" where there is no air and no light.

Once in the room, Turtle asks why they have to go on this vacation and Taylor explains that they are taking the trip to make sure they can stay together. On the television, an Indian butler reminds Taylor of how conscious she has become of Native American representations in just the last few days. She feels like the crazy woman outside, only Taylor is looking for Indians instead of horses. Later, Jax calls Angie's and reports to Taylor about Annawake's visit. At the end of the conversation, Taylor does not feel she can tell Jax she loves him.

Scared after Jax's phone call, Taylor packs to leave Angie's place. She and Turtle go to supermarket, where Turtle has sensed Taylor's fear, and has started to turn back inside herself. In the parking lot, the pair finds $50 on their windshield, accidentally placed on the wrong car. Taylor suggests that they are lucky, and maybe they should go to Las Vegas. Headed in that direction, Turtle asks if they can return to Lucky's hole at the Hoover Dam. Filled with hate for this place, Taylor and Turtle throw into it the green apricots they have brought from Tucson.

Back in the car, Turtle asks if she will have to leave her mom. Taylor reminds her of how she got her name, from the snapping turtles who never let go once they hold onto something, until it thunders. The rain outside is pouring down, and they hear thunder above them.


These chapters further develop Annawake's character and establish her role as a catalyst for the plot in the novel. At this point, our sympathy is still with Taylor and Annawake's presence seems obtrusive and manipulative. In many ways, these chapters demonize her. She befriends Jax behind Taylor's back; she thinks that Taylor's home is rundown and registers this point as something that Annawake could use to her own advantage; and she seems to be accusing Taylor of selfishness, when we know Taylor is a loving, unselfish mother.

We also should have a clear idea of Turtle's history with Taylor. In Chapter Two, Taylor calls Turtle "the miracle [she] wouldn't have let in the door if it had knocked." Taylor received Turtle when she was traveling across the country from rural Kentucky, where her main goal growing up was to avoid getting pregnant. She never asked for Turtle, and when she did receive her, Turtle had been abused. Taylor's indignant response is well justified, considering that the one child she knows from the Cherokee reservation was half-dead when Taylor found her, and now that this child is happy and healthy, this same community is demanding her back. Although Annawake keeps referring to the good of the tribe, we sense that her motives are in a sense selfish in their own right. Annawake is acting out her own pain associated with losing her brother to the outside world. In fact, she is represented as a kind of warhorse. Franklin Turnbo first uses this image in Chapter Seven when he refers to her riding around heroically on a white horse. He also at once point compares her to a racehorse, since her mind moves so quickly, and she always seems to be getting ahead of herself. In Chapter Ten, Jax provides an image of Annawake as a warrior on horseback.

It is appropriate for us to connect any images of horses with Annawake. When the crazy woman at the Casa Suerte asks if they have seen the horses, the narrative has already shifted to Turtle's consciousness. Turtle's fear and the idea of horses are directly connected. Annawake is the reason that Taylor and Turtle fear for their separation, and anything that implies separation incites fear in the small child. Interestingly, this short passage is one of the only places in the novel where we enter into Turtle's consciousness. Turtle imagines the "old place" where she could not breathe and there was no light. Inside of Turtle's mind, we are reminded of her abusive past and the events that led her tendency to disengage. The metaphoric imagery at the end of the chapter that compares horse's hooves with thunder again connects Annawake with Turtle's fear. Turtle is well aware that she is named for the snapping turtles whose firm grip does not let up until it thunders. The thunder at the end of the chapter is clearly a symbol of the possibility that this grip will loosen and Turtle and Taylor will be separated.

Turtle's desire to return to Lucky's hole represents a kind of therapeutic catharsis. We should note that Turtle has begun to disengage, going back inside herself. When she begins to come back to life, she wants to go throw something at the hole, because, as she says, she hates. The fact that the mother and daughter throw the green apricots suggests that they are cleansing themselves of their desperate situation. The green apricots represent their lack of sustenance, the "free" food that they cannot make use of. By throwing them away, they symbolically rid themselves of their misfortune and fight back against their lack of security. The scene of Turtle's catharsis can also be thought to represent her journey as a whole throughout the novel. Turtle's descent into her past parallels Annawake's entrance into their lives. The narrative is structured so that the possibility of Turtle losing her mother and returning to the Cherokee nation coincides with Turtle's therapeutic reliving of her past. The physical venue of the Hoover Dam symbolizes Turtle's need to go back to a place of pain before she can heal.

The idea of luck returns in Chapter Ten as well, when Lucky returns to Angie, and again when Taylor and Turtle find $50 on their car windshield. The reader should note the conversation Taylor and Turtle have about money. Turtle asks Taylor why they need money, and Taylor replies that lunch does not come free. This conversation symbolizes the breach between the Cherokee way of life and American culture. Turtle almost seems to echo Annawake in the way she questions the need for money—Annawake after all is the one who has always had "free breakfast" at her disposal. Taylor still cannot imagine that world.