Study Guide

Animal Dreams Semilla Besada

By Barbara Kingsolver

Semilla Besada

Nowhere is the relationship between trees and hope for the future clearer than in our final example of the fruit-tree symbolism of Animal Dreams. It's the "Semilla Besada" we're talking about, or "seed that's been kissed." It's a tree that produces and thrives more than its neighbors year after year.

In Grace, people tend to decorate these trees, adorning them with baby booties and envelopes in homage to their good luck. The baby bootie indicates the relation these trees have to an idea of a hopeful future: parents want these trees to bless their children with luck.

In Animal Dreams, Codi compares Hallie to a semilla besada because she has always thrived more spectacularly than everyone around her—certainly better than Codi or Doc. Later, Codi will have Hallie's funeral on the site of a specific semilla besada where the two girls hid intertwined locks of hair when they were little.

Of course, this is all part of how Codi sees her sister—as a beacon of hope, and as the one person she's always cared for and protected. Importantly, the adorning of the semilla besada with booties and envelopes sounds an awful lot like the decorating of graves on the Day of the Dead. The semilla besada ends up being a symbol for life, hope, and fertility, but also for death and remembrance. No wonder Codi holds Hallie's funeral at the foot of one of these trees.

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