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2010 Book of the Month Reads > December: "Animal Dreams" by Barbara Kingsolver

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message 1: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
For discussions concerning December's book of the month Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver.


message 2: by Catherine (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments I checked this out of the library yesterday and hope to start it soon. I read it previously in 1992, practically a lifetime ago, so it will be like a new read for me and I'm looking forward to reading it (again). Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees is one of my all time favorite books and I've also read The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer, Pigs in Heaven, and her more recent The Lacuna. I like the Arizona connections with this title and author, as well as the Native American and animal themes.


message 3: by Cari (new)

Cari (carikinney) Hi Catherine,
This is my first fiction book of Kingsolver's that I'll be reading. I have wanted to read The Poisonwood Bible for the longest time and have just never gotten around to it even though it's sitting on my shelf. Until now, the only book of hers that I have read is a nonfiction one titled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

I'm about four chapters into Animal Dreams. I made a small post over at our Yahoo version of Cafe Libri, but I'll cross-post it here for discussion as well. I have family in Arizona, so I'm intrigued now by what you've said about the connections. :)


message 4: by Cari (last edited Dec 03, 2010 09:17AM) (new)

Cari (carikinney) Through Chapter 3 --------

I started it the other day and got through chapter 3. Not much has happened yet. Mostly an introduction to the sisters, Cosima and Hallie. I loved the scene in chapter 2 with Cosima yelling at the kids for beating a peacock only to find out it was a pinata. :) Wonder what they must have thought of her. :)

Ch 3 – Homero thinks to himself – “God, why does a mortal man have children? It is senseless to love anything this much.” This was right after his daughters were rescued near the arroyo after the flood. I read that part and felt a twinge in my chest at his observation about loving children that much. For me there’s nothing that scares me as much as the possibility of something happening to my child. I don’t know that it’s senseless to love children that much, but it sure puts something on your heart that is like nothing else.

Chapter one ended on a foreshadowing note, so I’m curious about what is to come. As Homero was looking at his sleeping daughters, he was thinking about how much they have to lose and how much they have already lost in their lives to come. Should I be worried?


message 5: by Catherine (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments Finished Chapter 4.
As Codi tries to resettle into Grace AZ (*why does she feel so uncomfortable there?), particular attention should be paid to the animal references: the coyote pups the sisters were trying to save, the pinata that she thought was a real peacock, the wild peacocks in the orchards, and the chickens which her friend Emelina is slaughtering. And what is the incident which turned her away from medicine?

*Actually, Codi seems uncomfortable with her life in general.

I especially liked the end of Chapter 4 when Codi feels that things don't really change, only one's perspective changes. "In my opinion, mountains don't move. They only look changed when you look down on them from a great height." I also like the foreshadowing, enough to arouse curiosity without giving much away.


message 6: by Catherine (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments AerinBlue how are you progressing? Anyone else out there reading Animal Dreams with us?

SPOILER ALERT!
Page 97. Ready to start Homero section. End of Chapter 9.

Another animal: a coyote/dog with a bandana around his neck belonging to Loyd, Native American, and 'friend' from Codi's HS days who has the potential for adding some sexual energy to the plot. Also the beginnings of an environmental theme (common in many other Kingsolver books) focusing on the local mine and the possible relationship of fruit-drop.

Also several mentions of recurring dreams followed by insomnia. One dream about losing the baby was minimally "explained" in Chapter 6: The Miracle. I'm wondering if there's more to that story. And another dream about losing her eyesight in Chapter 8: Pictures, the eyesight and photography do seem to have connections but losing eyesight is fairly extreme.

Love the description of the school, too -- what an interesting building with entrances on all four levels.  The fictional town of Grace reminds of of Bisbee, AZ  – an old mining town that at the turn of the previous century was the biggest town between St. Louis and San Francisco, and now has a population of ~6000.  But Grace seems smaller so perhaps more like Morenci which has a population of ~1800.  One of the annual events in Bisbee is the 'Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb', a 5-K run that goes up and down 1,034 stairs throughout the town.


message 7: by Cari (new)

Cari (carikinney) Here are some discussion questions for Animal Dreams. Discussion questions are posted around the 10th of the month for each book selection. Feel free to answer any, all or none. Members may also use ideas from the questions to spark extra discussion about the book.

Remember that discussion questions may contain spoilers.

---------------------------------------

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Animal Dreams has been called eco-feminist literature. What is eco-feminist literature? What other authors have you read that have produced eco-feminist literature?

2. Why are Hallie and Codi different? What happened that caused them to take such different life paths? How and why does Codi change? Why does she become more engaged with the world?

3. One theme of the novel is the relationship between humans and the natural world. What does the novel have to say about the difference between Native American and Anglo American culture in relation to nature? How do creation stories, such as the Pueblo creation legend and the Garden of Eden story, continue to influence culture and behavior?

4. How do you feel about Doc Homer? What kind of parent was he, and why? In what ways did his strange point of view serve as a vehicle for the novel's themes of memory, amnesia, and identity?

5. How are ethnic and race relations portrayed in Animal Dreams?

6. How is the United States government presented in Animal Dreams?

7. How does Codi's character develop in the course of the novel?

8. Why does Codi ask Loyd if he was ever in love with Hallie, and what is the significance of his response?

9. What is the importance of the name the "Stitch and Bitch Club"?

10. What do Pecan trees symbolize?


message 8: by Cari (last edited Dec 12, 2010 07:39AM) (new)

Cari (carikinney) Catherine wrote: "Finished Chapter 4.
As Codi tries to resettle into Grace AZ (*why does she feel so uncomfortable there?), particular attention should be paid to the animal references: the coyote pups the siste..."


Catherine, I'm just about to finish Chapter 5. It's going a bit slow for me because of company arriving this week, but I hope to catch up with night time reading after they are settled in. :)

I'm not completely sure yet, but so far it seems like Codi being uncomfortable arriving in Grace might have to do with whatever her father did to keep her and Hallie separated from the community. I feel that it might have been more than just telling them they can no longer join everyone in the graveyard every year to celebrate the Day of the Dead. She stayed close to Emelina over the years, but she must have felt disconnected somehow from the rest of the community when she was growing up, or at least she thinks she was.

I don't understand Doc Homer's reason for wanting to do that with the girls and the community. You would think with them not having a mother, the love and acceptance and friendships offered by a community would do much good since the girls only had him.

I like the hint dropped about Codi's leave from medicine. It was obviously something very traumatic for her to leave her career over it.

You're right, she does seem uncomfortable with life in general. It's interesting that she's having to learn more about herself through Emelina's memories of her and Hallie. I have a feeling that what others remember about her and share with her are going to help her find her way.


message 9: by Cari (new)

Cari (carikinney) Catherine, I think we may be the only two reading the book here with Cafe Libri at Goodreads. There were a couple of people who posted over at Yahoo Cafe Libri, so I might cross-post some comments just to get some more thoughts rolling around.


message 10: by Cari (last edited Dec 12, 2010 08:07AM) (new)

Cari (carikinney) Cross-posting one of my comments from Yahoo Cafe Libri:
----- thru Ch 3 -----
I've noticed that Doc Homer's chapters are in the third person. Codi
(Cosima's) chapters in the first person. I think we're meant to feel that
distance that Doc Homer refers to in Chapter 1:
... "he won't risk going to stand over the bed the way he once would have."
(as he watches them sleep)
"He spent a lifetime noticing small details from a distance."
"...he knows he would weep if he could. Not for the river he can't cross to
reach his children, not for the distance, but for the opposite."

I'm puzzled about this distance he has with daughters. There's obviously no
mother in the picture. I wonder if her departure will have something to do
with their relationships evolving into what they are.

I noticed Doc Homer didn't want his daughters joining the other kids and
their families in the cemetery to celebrate the Day of the Dead either.
That's an event that the community takes part in and he decided that would
be the last year he would allow his girls to join them. I have to wonder
why he's cutting them off from what could be a larger "family" for them.


message 11: by Cari (new)

Cari (carikinney) Cross-posting one of my comments from Yahoo Cafe Libri:

A few questions popped up while reading chapter 4.

Has anyone read "The Secret Garden"? It's one of those books I never got
around to. I wondered what Codi meant in this part of Chap. 4:

"My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden. It's embarrassing to
think I'd merrily relocated again and again, accompanying Carlo the ends of
the earth, because of the lure of a possible garnet or secret closet. But it
might be true."

What did the Secret Garden offer?

Another question -- are there wild peacocks in Arizona? I have family that
live in Phoenix, but I've only been inside the city. Never gone exploring
outside a metro area. Codi talks about how almost every house has peacock
feathers because they can be found all through the orchards around Grace, AZ. This reminded me of the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. I wondered if something similar happened in AZ or is this just purely fiction from the author?

What does Codi mean here:

In the kitchen she washes and eats a red bell pepper. Then she takes a paring
knife to a cucumber when the phone rings. She talks to her sister for awhile.
She continues to eat while on the phone. "I munched on the cucumber. It
wasn't that different from eating an outsize apple, or a peeled peach, and yet
anyone looking in the window would judge me insane."

Is it strange to eat a cucumber the way you would eat an apple or a peach?
Hope not because then I'm long overdue for the funny farm.
I've peeled and eaten cucumbers like that many times. I've washed and
eaten bell peppers right there in the kitchen as she has done. Now I
wonder if anyone has seen me through my window! ;)

Looks like Codi and Hallie have gone through life-altering changes. Codi gave
up her career in medicine to work as a clerk in a 7/11 in Tucson until she left
for her hometown of Grace, AZ to go be a biology teacher at the high school.
Hallie left alone in her truck for Nicaragua to go work on saving crops. As
this chapter comes to an end, Codi reflects on whose course was changed by her
father's lifetime of ministering charity to the people of Grace, other than
hers and her sisters, and in a direction they would grow to resent. A lot of
hinting to whatever their childhood was like, but no details offered up yet.


message 12: by Catherine (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments Glad to see your post, AerinBlue and will address some of your questions/comments.

What did the Secret Garden offer?
It's been a few years since I read The Secret Garden but the main themes I remember are restoration and self-discovery. Here's a quote from a review: What Katy Read: Feminist Re-Readings of "Classic" Stories for Girls. Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 1995."Its emphasis on nurturing, on the importance of a mother figure and on the empowering role of the imagination in personal development..." Perhaps those are themes which are also common to Animal Dreams!

Another question -- are there wild peacocks in Arizona?

Yes, there are peacocks in Arizona, but most of the wild ones come from nearby 'managed' flocks. They like to roam the neighborhoods (and sometimes take up residence) in search of new pecking grounds and love for shiny dark objects. They are known as an attractive nuisance. I don't have that much experience with mining towns though -- the peacocks may be just as fictional as the town itself.

I'm puzzled about this distance he has with daughters. There's obviously no mother in the picture. I wonder if her departure will have something to do with their relationships evolving into what they are.

There's a bit about Codi and Hallie's mother in Chapter 5 (~p.49) but I'm hoping we'll learn more yet.

Is it strange to eat a cucumber the way you would eat an apple or a peach?
I'd say it's more unusual to eat a cucumber or red pepper whole than it is an apple or a peach, but not strange.

I've been reading other things for the last few days but will return to Animal Dreams later today or tomorrow. Also hope to pick up Christmas Jars on my next library visit.


message 13: by Catherine (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments SPOILER ALERT!!
Page 253, End of Chapter 20

Codi still searching for she knows not what but something like a signpost to her future, paying little attention to her father who she ostensibly came to Grace to help, currently she's on a trip with Loyd to visit his family. Homero receives disturbing call that Hallie has been kidnapped. But will he do anything or remember to tell Codi?

Heavy environmental theme. And there must be more to Codi's backstory that we haven't learned yet. Or is she still mourning her motherless child self? Hallie's last letter shook her up badly -- how will she deal with that, and the news (if she gets it) of the kidnapping.


message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (porkchop0911) I just think its weird how she doesnt remember much of her childhood like something was taken from her.


message 15: by Catherine (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments FINISHED! And posted my review....


message 16: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (last edited Dec 28, 2010 12:39AM) (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Catherine wrote: "FINISHED! And posted my review...."

Congrats on finishing, Catherine! Any spoilers in your review? I'll stop by and read it soon. :)


message 17: by Catherine (last edited Dec 28, 2010 04:01AM) (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments Adrianna wrote: "Congrats on finishing, Catherine! Any spoilers in your review? I'll stop by and read it soon. :)"

No, not what I would consider spoilers anyway. What is the protocol? Should I post the review here also? Here's the link to my review.


message 18: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
It's really up to you. I tend to just post the link here. I sometimes copy and paste the entire review over to the other sites of Cafe Libri.

I'm off to read your review now! :)


message 19: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Here's a little discussion from Yahoo Cafe Libri. I'm still reading the book, so I thought I would share some of my responses. I'm only on Chapter 5, lol!

*******

I think any parent's absence affects how a child develops, regardless of how
altruistic their motives are. I have a feeling there's more to Doc than just
being an absent father, though. I just started chapter 5. I'm reading rather
slowly, but I'm really enjoying Kingsolver's description and writing style.

~Adrianna~

--- In cafelibri@yahoogroups.com, Terri Estey wrote:
>
> I have to say I've NEVER eaten a bell pepper by itself or a cucumber like an
> apple. So I kind of agreed on the strangeness of it, though "insane" is a
> rather severe description of the action.
>
>
> I wonder if their father's "charity" work took him away from them, and if they
> perceived his absence as a representation of how much he loved them? In other
> words, did he always put his patients first above them? If he's a normal Dr.
I
> would assume the answer is yes. Most Doctor's seem to be absentee husbands
and
> fathers out of mere necessity. My father was a minister and I definitely found
> that to be the case. I always thought the "church" was more important than us
> because anything to do with the church was God's work. How does a child
compete
> with that? Or with a


message 20: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
AerinBlue wrote: "Through Chapter 3 --------

I started it the other day and got through chapter 3. Not much has happened yet. Mostly an introduction to the sisters, Cosima and Hallie. I loved the scene in chap..."


***Slight spoilers***

I'm reading through some of the old posts and responding to them because I've
just started "Animal Dreams." I really like the introduction. The changes in
perspective are fun, and remind me of the technique she used in "The Poisonwood
Bible." It's a way of distinguishing between the characters and showing the
misunderstandings between each person.

I liked the pinata scene too! It was dark and innocent all at the same time.

Since you already finished the book, I'm sure you know what the foreshadowing
comment meant better than I do, lol.

~Adrianna~


message 21: by Catherine (new)

Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 50 comments Adrianna wrote: "The changes in perspective are fun, and remind me of the technique she used in "The Poisonwood Bible." It's a way of distinguishing between the characters and showing the misunderstandings between each person."

Thanks for mentioning that, Adrianna. I had forgotten that being the same type of perspective as in The Poisonwood Bible -- been 12 years since I read it.


message 22: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Catherine wrote: "Thanks for mentioning that, Adrianna..."

No problem, Catherine. It's been almost as long since I last read that book too. It left a lasting impression, though. I'm still reading through some old messages about Animal Dreams, so expect more comments to come! I'll keep cross-posting them too. :)


message 23: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Still plugging away at Animal Dreams. I'm now on Chapter 19, "The Bread Girl."

**SPOILERS**

I really disliked reading about the rooster fights. Sounds like a horrible "sport." Animal rights activists must go crazy about this issue. I really liked how Cosima stood up to Loyd about this issue, and how he gave it up. The tie-up with his own brother's death was quite a surprise and very poignant. I am really enjoying his character and how his influence is changing Codi. I can't wait to find out whether Codi ever tells him the truth about their unborn child. I'm also curious if issues will be resolved with Carlos (if there are issues to be resolved) and whether or not Hallie will come home by the end of the novel. Finally, I hope that Codi does save Grace. :)


message 24: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Jeffrey posted in Yahoo Cafe Libri:

I was wondering as I read it, how much of that was true and how much was a rationalization or a defense mechanism. If it was true, why tell Codi? They was it was said seemed too matter of fact. It made it seem as though Loyd wasn't ready to disclose that he was ready to make such an important change in his life for a woman. Possibly he thought it would make him sees weak to be caving in so easily without some other significant reason. Hadn't thought of it in connection with his brother's death in a bar fight. Interesting connection.


OK, sorry, but I'm stuck on the defensive theory.


message 25: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Adrianna wrote: "Jeffrey posted in Yahoo Cafe Libri..."

My response:

No problem. I've gotten used to being on the minority side since my discussion in the Q&A group about "Room," lol!

I haven't had time to read more since posting this, but based on what I have read...

**SPOILERS**

I interpret Loyd's character as a "fresh of breath air" in terms of relationships for Codi. He is unlike any man that she has ever dated, and he's very difficult from the young and reckless teen of his youth. He appears very honest with her; likewise, he does not hide his feelings for her or the hopes that he has about their relationship lasting a lifetime. He asks her pointed questions (such as the children one) because he wants to connect with her on a deeper level. Even the place where they made love for the first time was special and unique-- he had never taken a woman there before. He takes her to "forbidden" places because he wants to include her in his life. He won't lie to her about wanting more than she's willing to give.

"I was wondering as I read it, how much of that was true and how much was a rationalization or a defense mechanism. If it was true, why tell Codi?"

If Loyd needed a defense mechanism, he would have shut down her inquiry. He would not have responded or perhaps remained quiet eventually moving the conversation elsewhere. He told Codi simply because she asked, and he wants to be honest with her. This is actually ironic considering the contrast of Codi's major secret that she is hiding from him.

Kingsolver is very careful with her writing in this segment of the book because she indicates that Loyd is quiet for so many minutes, maybe it was 20 or 30, before responding. He was really considering what she said and how it related to his brother before he responded with his revelation.

"It made it seem as though Loyd wasn't ready to disclose that he was ready to make such an important change in his life for a woman. Possibly he thought it would make him sees weak to be caving in so easily without some other significant reason."

I think he's already disclosed that he is ready and willing to make major changes for Codi if she stays in town. He hasn't been shy about his feelings for her. I also don't think he has a "weak" complex when it comes to Codi. He exudes a confidence that probably attracts Codi to him (she is very self-doubting and self-loathing).

The more I consider the cock fights, the more I think he continued them in order to stay connected to his brother. We haven't found out where he was during his brother's bar fight (at least not yet), and he wasn't able to "coach" him or help him win. With the cocks, he has formed a special relationship. It's described as if he loves them. The cock fights allow him to relive the bar fight when his brother died, but this time he's there, a participant. He's able to protect his brother through his relationship with his birds. Perhaps the whole act of winning is more than the money or the name he makes among the other Indians. Perhaps it's his way of changing what happened to his brother...taking something that was out of his hands and giving himself a semblance of control.


message 26: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Jeffrey posted in Yahoo Cafe Libri:

It is interesting to compare the relationship between Loyd and his brother and Codi and her sister.

Loyd did make a bold move in projecting Codi into his life when he took her into the Indian community. Cody's flight reaction may have been motivated in part by the feeling of being smothered. She said she didn't like being on the outside in Grace and feeling out of place but that was they way she was used to living. As she began to learn more of her father's roots she may have found she wasn't so far removed after all. But the sudden projection into Loyd's life may have given her a smothered feeling. At that point Loyd was asking for more than she was able to give.

Your right, of course, Loyd did want to bring Codi into his life and you give their relationship a more sensitive reading that I was able to provide. But I think Loyd had to make some changes, not just giving up cock fighting, in order to make the relationship work. There are some indications of bad vibes, that Codi felt she wasn't accepted by everybody in Loyd's community, at least not by some of those others who participated in the cock fighting, some of the other Indian men. I think Loyd's statement that he wasn't giving it up just for her was in true on the surface but was also a unconscious defensive mechanism because he had begun to realize how much he would have to give up and how difficult it would be. That may just be me giving a male's reading to his words and actions. People who are used to living independently, as both of them were, have to make significant adjustments if they are going to live with another and they don't come easy.

Possibly that wasn't an aspect of the story Kingsolver intended to reveal but her characters may have been so true to life that they took on their own existence and she may have told us things that she didn't intend to discuss. Or that may be me seeing as aspect of my experience reflected in her story. As we read books and bring our lives to the autheor's story, that too can happen.


message 27: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Adrianna wrote: "Jeffrey posted in Yahoo Cafe Libri..."

Excellent discussion, Jeffrey! I'm going to cross-post our responses in the other versions of Cafe Libri again. :)

I agree that it's very interesting to compare the relationship between Loyd and his brother to that of Codi and Hallie.

I don't think Codi's flight reaction was motivated by Loyd smothering her, though. I'm reading further into "The Bread Girl," and she mentions this as a reason for wanting to leave Grace:

"'It's one thing to carry your life wherever you go. Another thing to always go looking for it somewhere else...'

...but the guilt nudged back along with the sharp glass edge of my own rationalization, recognized for what it was. I wasn't keeping to any road, I was running, forgetting what lay behind and always looking ahead for the perfect home, where trains never wrecked and hearts never broke, where no one you loved ever died" (236).

She is running away from her past and from pain/death. She never came to terms with what happened to her, and she doesn't want to stay with Loyd because of what he represents--acknowledging what happened to them when they were teenagers, admitting the truth.

Even earlier than this point, she refers to Hallie's letter to her, which was a very good moment in the book, and the truth of why she runs:

"The thought of Hallie's last letter still stung me but I tried to think abstractly about what she wanted to tell me: about keeping on the road because you know how to drive" (235-36).

She doesn't want to stop running because it's what she has always done.

You stated the same thing when you said "She said she didn't like being on the outside in Grace and feeling out of place but that was they way she was used to living. As she began to learn more of her father's roots she may have found she wasn't so far removed after all. But the sudden projection into Loyd's life may have given her a smothered feeling. At that point Loyd was asking for more than she was able to give."

I haven't learned more about her father's roots yet, so I can't comment about that. I don't understand the sudden projection into Loyd's life comment, though. I don't see that happening. I'm assuming that you are referring to the Christmas event she attended on the reservation, but I don't see anyone treating her as if she is part of the family. I also don't think anyone is excluding her either. She's just a guest who's fascinated by this new culture and tradition. I think she got scared because she was actually enjoying her time with Loyd's family, and she's afraid that it will make it harder to leave him.

"There are some indications of bad vibes, that Codi felt she wasn't accepted by everybody in Loyd's community, at least not by some of those others who participated in the cock fighting, some of the other Indian men."

I didn't read any of this into that section of the book. Again, I saw her as more of an observer in this scenario. It wasn't that they were excluding her, it was just that she wasn't part of it. The families that attend are not involved in the cock fighting, and they stand away from the main crowd to let the men do their thing. She's a doctor/scientist, so it's more in her nature to observe rather than participant. She did exchange looks with the other women and felt a connection with them--the women aren't comfortable with this pastime, but they let the men do it because it's tradition/a guy thing.

"I think Loyd's statement that he wasn't giving it up just for her was in true on the surface but was also a unconscious defensive mechanism because he had begun to realize how much he would have to give up and how difficult it would be."

Again, I don't see that in the text. Later on, it's revealed that his mother didn't know that he was involved in the cockfighting, and he begs Codi to not tell her. Even Codi states that he gave up the cockfighting more for his mother's sake than hers. She was just the catalyst/voice of reason.

"That may just be me giving a male's reading to his words and actions."

Could be. Nothing wrong with that, though! Makes for a fun discussion!

"People who are used to living independently, as both of them were, have to make significant adjustments if they are going to live with another and they don't come easy."

I didn't see Loyd as "used to living independently," though. He has a big family that he spends a lot of time with, and he was even married once before in the past. He's very much a "people person" compared to Codi.

The characters are indeed taking on their own lives. This is quite a fascinating read!


message 28: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Just responding to some older posts about this novel.

**SPOILERS***

I've finished up to chapter 24, "The Luckiest Person Alive," and I have learned that Codi and Hallie's family aren't as removed as they were led to believe--a myth perpetuated by their father. I figured it was going to turn out that they belonged more than they ever imagined, but I was really saddened by the fact that this news was juxtaposed by what happened to Hallie.

I'm still going to scroll through some older posts and comment as I see fit. I'll cross-post these musings in the other versions of Cafe Libri too.


message 29: by Adrianna, Owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Responding to some older questions that were asked:

"Has anyone read "The Secret Garden"? It's one of those books I never got around to. I wondered what Codi meant in this part of Chap. 4:

'My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden. It's embarrassing to think I'd merrily relocated again and again, accompanying Carlo the ends of the earth, because of the lure of a possible garnet or secret closet. But it might be true.'

What did the Secret Garden offer?"


Here, the reference to a secret garden alludes to chasing an impossible dream...something that doesn't exist. The secret garden wasn't magical like the children pretended it was, but the affects it had on the friends and the little boy's father was magical. Somehow sharing the secret between all of them brought them closer together as a family. Codi is desperately seeking a place she can belong to--her own magical secret garden.

"What does Codi mean here:

'In the kitchen she washes and eats a red bell pepper. Then she takes a paring knife to a cucumber when the phone rings. She talks to her sister for awhile. She continues to eat while on the phone. I munched on the cucumber. It wasn't that different from eating an outsize apple, or a peeled peach, and yet anyone looking in the window would judge me insane.'

Is it strange to eat a cucumber the way you would eat an apple or a peach? Heaven forbid it be insane because then I'm long overdue for the funny farm. I've peeled and eaten cucumbers like that many times. I've washed and eaten bell peppers right there in the kitchen as she had done, too. Now I wonder if anyone has seen me through my window! ;)"


I'm not sure why this part was highlighted. Perhaps Kingsolver was trying to make a cultural reference, as if most Americans don't eat raw bell peppers and cucumbers without it being mixed in a salad or some type of food preparation. In retrospect, I believe this scene highlights how much Codi is like the other women in Gracela. She fits in because they all do that, but she still cannot see this fact.

Great questions!


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Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Catherine wrote: "Glad to see your post, AerinBlue and will address some of your questions/comments.

What did the Secret Garden offer?
It's been a few years since I read The Secret Garden but the main ..."


Great analysis about "The Secret Garden." I cross-posted my thoughts about it here. They were very similar to yours, Catherine. :)


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Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Amanda wrote: "I just think its weird how she doesnt remember much of her childhood like something was taken from her."

Good point that you raise. Is it common for a childhood trauma to essentially "erase" memories, especially the happier times? I wondered why she punished herself so much throughout the book because of what happened to her and her unborn baby.


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Jeffrey posted in cafelibri@yahoogroups.com:

It struck me that one of the "gifts" Codi inherited from her father was his ability to see himself in the third person, as a stand alone outsider in the community despite his sense of duty to the community as a physician. It interfered with his ability to form relationships and kept him from understanding how the community reacted to him. Codi had the same problem but was, to an extent, able to get past that barrier and shift her focus.

Codi too contributed to the well being of her community as teacher and community organizer or at least, community catalyst. In the end she became able to accept community acceptance of her in a way that her father never did. Codi didn't project herself into the world in the way her father or her sister did, she just sort of fell into place. She didn't have the issues that her father had with community acceptance and wasn't as assertive in that sense that her sister was, Codi didn't have that take charge dominance. In a way that gave her the freedom to be flexible and to rise above her inheritance and the damage of her early life to make a place for herself.

On another cast of thought, I suppose it would be odd for a physician to celebrate the Day of the Dead when it is the physician's task to hold death at bay.


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Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
Adrianna wrote: "It struck me that one of the "gifts" Codi inherited from her father was his ability to see himself in the third person, as a stand alone outsider in th..."

Interesting thoughts, Jeffrey. I gathered the impression that Doc kept himself away from the community as a way to protect himself, his wife, and the children. He didn't realize how much harm it actually caused until it was too late. Here's a quote from the book that supports my opinion:

"'We were a bad family. Try to understand. We learned it in school along with the multiplication tables and the fact that beasts have no souls. I could accept the verdict, or I could prove it wrong.'

'You did that. You proved it wrong.'

...'I proved nothing...I became a man with no history. No guardian angels. I turned out to be a brute beast after all. I didn't redeem my family, I buried it and then I built my grand house on top of the grave. I changed my name.'" (287).

Finally, interesting observation about The Day of the Dead.


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In cafelibri@yahoogroups.com, Jeffrey Taylor wrote:

I never quite got to an understanding of what was bothering Cali's father about the family history. Was he trying to protect his family from something like the Biblical threat of suffering punishment to the children up to the seventh generation?  Even he seemed to think it was an open question, a verdict he could accept or disprove.

When the children were young and the river rose separating them from their family, remember her father goes looking for them, finds he can do nothing by himself and he calls someone across the river who comes for them? The good doctor knows that it takes a community to raise children and he relies on the community just as they rely upon him. 

I think his aloofness is a personal trait and the references, if not blame, he gives mis-attributes cause and effect.  But that's a purely personal reading of the story.


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Adrianna wrote: "I never quite got to an understanding of what was bothering Cali's father about the family history. Was he trying to protect his family from so..."

I think Codi's father tried to hide their family relations from their children because him and their mother were cousins, don't remember if it was first or second. Another reason the family disapproved of the marriage was they didn't like Doc, so when they ran away for a little bit after eloping, I'm sure that didn't endear him to anyone upon their return to Grace. I think the whole rejection/disapproval hurt Doc more than he wanted to admit, which is why he held himself and his family above it all-- as if it didn't bother him/them.

I agree with you...it seemed as if he did rely on the community to help him with his kids, but I think that was only after their mom died...and purely because he was struggling. He never admitted it to himself or to his kids, which is why Codi forgot so many of her happier childhood memories with the community, which all came back after Hallie's memorial.

I'm not sure if I agree with your reading about it being a personal trait. I think there was more to it, and in the end, his aloofness ended up causing a lot of damage to their family (Codi's need to always be "free" and run from commitment and Hallie's determination to "save herself.").

I just finished the book, and I am a little disappointed by the ending. I didn't like how all loose ends were tied together in chapter 28, "Day of All Souls." I guess the whole story came full circle from chapter 1, "The Night of All Souls," but it left too much of a feeling that-- everything ends well as it should. Doc's dead, Codi's pregnant, and she is keeping a private journal of conversations with her dead sister Hallie, and she gets to visit where her mom died. So, despite all their hardships, things ended happily.

I don't usually mind "happy endings," which I would classify this novel's ending, but I think it was unnecessary to end things so succinctly for the reader. The mystery of the book, the characters, and the land were lost with this type of an ending. I would have liked the book to end with chapter 27, "Human Remains." The final quote there would have been perfect: "Oh God his girls are as light as birds" (335). We started with Homero, and we should have ended with his final thoughts.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I'm thinking between a 3 and a 4 for a rating. I was leaning toward a 4 until that ending...I still can't fathom why it bothers me so much...

Once the review is written, I will share it with the group. I'm copying this post to the other versions of Cafe Libri too. :)


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In cafelibri@yahoogroups.com, Jeffrey Taylor wrote:

That was certainly an element in the equation. Of course we are seeing that element through his eyes.  Was the community acting gracelessly or was his vision a magnifying lens? We are never told that I remember. Was there some element of responsibility that made him feel that the community would react negatively?  Certainly one of his neighbors was concerned with his deteriorating condition and seemed to care. Perhaps it wasn't important that we understood the cause. Perhaps we are intended to focus on the effect. Whatever happened reverberated through at least two generations of the family.


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Adrianna (adriannas) | 529 comments Mod
That was certainly an element in the equation. Of course we are seeing that element through his eyes.  Was the community acting gracelessly or ..."

I don't think we are exactly told either...all I remember him mentioning was that they were cousins, once or twice removed, and her family didn't approve of their union. In the end, I don't think it mattered either. Just the consequences of his actions and how it effected the generations...like a stone being tossed into a lake, the ripple affect.


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