One of my favorite books from high school was Barbara Kingsolver ‘s “Animal Dreams.” If you are viewing this page, I assume you’re looking for help on an assignment. I’m all about helping people out, so I published this essay, which I found on my old computer, to be used as a resource. Please don’t plagiarize it (and remember, teachers will easily be able to find out if you do), but use it in any other way that’s helpful.
I’m kind of embarrassed by it today, even though I got an 97/100. I’m publishing it as is, so any mistakes I made in my teen years are still there today.
One final note: I titled this essay “Codi’s Dreams.”
Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver , is a touching novel of a woman’s journey through life. It’s a book for anyone who has, or wants, to do something in their life to make this world a better place to live. Codi, in Animal Dreams, returns to Grace, her childhood home, to find a purpose for her life in belonging to a community, finding someone she can love, and healing past relationships.
Codi has always felt out of place. One reason she feels out of place is because of her appearance. She has been very tall her whole life, 5’11” in her adulthood. And as a kid, her father forced her to wear orthopedic shoes, making her feel even more out of place, and the other kids make fun of her. When she returns to Grace, she feels out of place again, but in different ways. Everyone now comments on her “contemporary” clothing, and she just wishes to fit in. At the fiesta, Trish Garcia, an old cheerleader, says “God, honey, you look like a rock ‘n ‘roll star”(Kingsolver60). She does not want this kind of special attention. Also, She finds it difficult to take a job at her old high school, since her high school years were the most miserable years of her life.
Codi has never felt like she “fit in” anywhere in her life. First, when she was growing up, everyone else in her town seemed to have a family history in Grace except for her. She actually did have ancestors from Grace, but she never knew it, and it never felt like she did. After she became old enough to and moved, she still could not find a place to belong. She lived with Carlo for many years, but never felt any connection to him. When she lived with him in Greece it was even more awkward for her to fit into the country. She even made embarrassing mistakes trying to translate into Greek. Now, she goes back to Grace, which is harder than ever for her to belong. Now everyone feels like a stranger to her, though everyone acts like though know Codi well. Again, Codi does not want any of the special treatment she receives, and would like to live like everyone in the town does.
She would also like to find someone she can love in her life. She knows this person cannot be Carlo. They become too different, Carlo is continuously moving, while Codi wants to slow down. Now Hallie is also gone in Nicaragua. Without Hallie, there are no people outside of Grace that she can love. When Codi comes to Grace, she hopes to be able to have a better relationship with her father. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s blocks his memory and it becomes difficult to communicate with him. That leaves no one left in her life to care about, but unexpectedly to Codi, she starts to care about Loyd. Codi shows interest in Loyd’s culture, and Loyd gets along well with Codi. Loyd does not crowd Codi, and gives her space when she needs it to deal with her problems. When Codi finds that Hallie became kidnapped by the contras, Loyd does not try to crowd Codi, but gives her space to deal with her personal problems by herself. Codi’s relationship with Loyd remains the only one she can control. She could not control her baby and mother dying, her father becoming sick, or her sister leaving, but she can control her relationship with Loyd.
Also, Codi has come back home to heal her past relationships. First, she wants to heal her relationship with her dad. They have never had a close parent-daughter relationship, and Codi would like to know him better. Second, she wants to deal with the death of her baby. She pushes the thought of her miscarriage to the back of her mind and never deals with the though. She has never told anyone about it. She cannot find a place she belongs or someone she can love until she deals with this memory that has haunted her all of her life. She never even told Hallie, the first secret they shared. Third, she would like to find out about her mother and her relation with her. Codi finds that she died giving birth to Hallie, and knew that it might kill her, but went through with it anyway. This showed how much her mother loved her, how she would rather give life to her daughters than protect herself.
Animal Dreams is the telling of Codi’s past, and what her future will be like. It’s a well written, thought provoking book. By the end of the book, Codi reaches many of her hopes in life. She finds a place and a person that she can love, and makes peace with her father, and in some ways makes peace with herself.
Kingslover, Barbara. Animal Dreams. New York: Harper Perennial, 1990.