Study Guide

Minor Characters in Animal Dreams

By Barbara Kingsolver

Minor Characters

Cissy Ramon

Cissy Ramon is a low-down, good-for-nothing type who wears green nail polish and doesn't keep her promises. At least, that's what we hear, since we never meet her personally. She was Loyd's first wife. She liked cockfighters. She had Loyd had a short and ill-fated union, and she ran off on him after two years.

So why tell us about Cissy at all? We think she's there to shed more light on Loyd's personality. Part of what we learn about Loyd from this story is that he's been burned by wild women before, so it makes sense that he takes it slow and careful with Codi.

Collie Bluestone

Collie is Loyd's buddy and business partner in the cockfighting game. After Loyd quits the chickens, Collie is the one who takes over. Just so we know that all those roosters won't go to waste.

Trish Garcia

Trish might be the only really stereotypical character in Animal Dreams: a chain-smoking ex-cheerleader who grew up, got married, got some kids, and stayed just as foolish and bigoted as she was back in high school. Codi only talks to her briefly, during the Labor Day party that Emelina throws in Chapter Seven.

Trish's role in the story is really to represent the worst of the American public. She believes that she knows all about the war between the Sandinistas and the contras, but when it comes down to it, she just translates the facts into something that appeals to her, a narrative in which the U.S. is aligned with the good guys against the bad communists. When Codi tried to correct her, she just gets mad. She doesn't want to admit she's wrong, and the idea that Hallie could be doing something noble gets under her skin, too.

For Trish, other people taking moral action is just kind of insulting. Why doesn't Hallie just shut up and smoke some cigarettes instead of making everyone else look bad all the time?

Codi's Students

Codi's got a couple of sections of biology and lab that she teaches at the local high school, and her students play a vital, if small, role in Animal Dreams.

Raymo is kind of a class clown, but he turns out to be very smart and motivated when it comes to building terrariums and fighting Black Mountain. Marta and Connie Muñoz and Hector Bolivar Jones get up to no good in the back seat of the bus, and Hector is the son of a guy who used to try and bully Codi as a kid. She kind of takes it out on Hector, which is lame.

Even though she treats Hector inappropriately (and later apologizes) and has a tendency to lay into the kids on uncomfortable subjects such as sex education and their own complicity in the collapse of global ecology, the students really like Codi. Not only do they show up for Hallie's funeral en masse, but they also vote to name Codi teacher of the year.

Rita Cardenal

Rita is another one of Codi's students, but we're singling her out because she has a special place in the plot of the novel. At sixteen, she's pregnant with twins and dropping out of high school.

Sound familiar?

Yeah, her main role in the novel is to act as a kind of stand-in for little Codi: she's pregnant, but seems to be more open about it, and seems to feel way more ownership of her own body than Codi did when she was young.

Doc certainly thinks she's Codi—he actually talks to her as if she were Codi at one point during her examination, and so Rita is also the occasion for Codi and Doc to begin to see that Alzheimer's is now beginning to severely affect his work in medicine. Rita calls Codi up to tell her about the very strange appointment she had with Doc, and this instigates an important conversation between father and daughter about medicine, vocation, and whether or not he's proud of her.

As far as Rita goes, we don't learn a whole lot about the inner workings of her mind, but we do know that she considers people to be a "totally creeped scenario," an assessment with which our narrator, Codi, is forced to agree (14.108).