Study Guide

Animal Dreams Chapter 11

By Barbara Kingsolver

Chapter 11

A River on the Moon

  • Codi and J.T. are pruning fruit trees in the orchard when J.T. tells her what Loyd meant by "game birds."
  • Codi's super not impressed.
  • Apparently these birds are for cockfighting, rather than medieval feasting.
  • J.T. tells Codi that Loyd likes cockfighting because it's basically the only thing his father ever gave him. Codi is not super impressed with that, either.
  • Codi briefly considers macking it to J.T. because he's standing there all sweaty and shiny. Thankfully, she comes to her senses—Emelina is her best friend. Good job, Codi.
  • In spite of the game birds, Codi and Loyd have been chilling for weeks, talking about nothing and getting to know each other.
  • Loyd tells Codi the story of his dog, Jack, who is the product of Loyd's dad's old dog and an injured coyote that he took in when she was in heat.
  • Codi and Loyd kiss, and it's awesome.
  • Codi keeps thinking about Carlo, and she tells a story about working at a remote clinic with him in Crete.
  • Apparently, Codi dropped out of med school after she failed to deliver a baby feet-first and ran away. Interesting.
  • Back in Grace, Codi takes her biology students on a field trip to the river to teach them about ecosystems and invertebrates. Trouble is, when they put the river water under the microscope, there's nothing alive in there.
  • Codi realizes that the acid levels in the river are way too high—and that it's all because of the mine's leaching operation, the same thing that's causing the fruit drop.
  • Codi makes an official complaint to the local authorities and then makes a bunch of unofficial complaints with Viola about how messed up the river water is.
  • Viola tells Codi that instead of cleaning up their mess, the Black Mountain Mining Company just plans to divert the entire river to "Tortoise Canyon," where no one lives.
  • Also, basically everyone at Black Mountain has a pointy black mustache and cackles a lot.
  • If the river gets diverted, the orchards will die, and the town of Grace will cease to exist. Surprisingly, Codi finds she actually cares that no one is doing anything about it.
  • Environmental disaster or no environmental disaster, however, Codi wants to dance, so she goes with Emelina and family to hear some "Chicken Scratch" music.
  • Chicken Scratch is "Mexican-spiced Native American polka" (11.71). It's at a Mexican restaurant, and everyone in Grace is there.
  • While the band's on break, a couple of life-and-death moments occur in the story.
  • First, Emelina tells Codi about a guy they both knew in high school named Fenton Lee. He was driving a train that crashed, and now he is extremely dead.
  • Then, immediately following this highly topical conversation, Codi realizes that Emelina's baby is not breathing. She jumps out of her chair and gives him the baby Heimlich, saving his life.
  • Emelina is crying and freaking out and thanking Codi, but Codi's like, NBD, just doing my job that's not my really job, because I chickened out at the last minute and never got to be a doctor.
  • But really NBD.
  • That night, Codi stays in Emelina's house and stays up listening to the baby breathing. She thinks about Loyd.
  • Codi thinks about how people are really just animals like all the rest, so she might as well admit that she totally wants to hit it with Loyd.
  • We guess that's what Codi means by "animal dreams"?

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