Study Guide

Animal Dreams Tone

By Barbara Kingsolver

Tone

Wounded, Thoughtful, with a Large Side of Sarcasm

The main characters in Animal Dreams are all stuck in the painful losses of their past. Codi is hung up on the death of her mother, her miscarriage, her faraway sister, and her rejection by the town where she grew up. Doc, our other narrative point of view, is losing his mind and his memories.

Still, despite all this suffering, Codi doesn't take herself too seriously. She and Hallie both hate self-righteousness. It's not about being right or being a hero; it's about doing what needs to be done. Sometimes that means saving babies from choking, and sometimes it means making penis jokes in caves.

Take this moment from the Christmas celebrations at Santa Rosalia Pueblo, for example. Codi and Loyd are staying at Loyd's mom's house, which she has decorated with lots of little trinkets—pots and statues and flowers. Codi has just asked Loyd about the cultural understanding of home among the Pueblo, and he responds:

"We're like coyotes," he said. "Get to a good place, turn around three times in the grass, and you're home. Once you know how, you can always do that, no matter what. You won't forget."

I thought of Inez's copious knickknacks and suspected Loyd was idealizing a bit." (19.84-5)

Codi has big problems to solve, and she's trying to think her way through them, but she likes to undercut her reflections on herself and other people with sarcasm and jokes. She's very self-aware, which is why she's still fun to be around in spite of her weird tendencies to lie at random and to reject other people before they can reject her.

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