Study Guide

Animal Dreams Chapter 13

By Barbara Kingsolver

Chapter 13

Homer: Crybabies

  • Doc reveals that he has at some point officially changed his name—we don't know what he changed it from, but we have noticed that all of his chapters are suspiciously titled "Homero."
  • Doc's working on a photograph: a cane tree that he wants to make look like a river he saw once while flying out to care for a wounded soldier in his army doctoring days.
  • We learn that all of Doc's photographs are memories. He isn't just trying to make things look like other things, but specifically to recreate mental images from his own memories.
  • Doc is weaving in and out of the past. One second, he remembers that Codi is a grown-up schoolteacher now; the next second, he thinks she's fifteen again.
  • Now we get the whole miscarriage story from Doc's point of view.
  • In Doc's memory, Codi's locked herself in the bathroom.
  • Doc doesn't want Codi to know that he's been aware of her pregnancy this whole time, so he asks little Hallie to go and find out what Codi needs.
  • Hallie comes back and asks for a black sweater that belonged to their mom before she died.
  • Eventually, Codi sneaks out of the bathroom carrying something wrapped in the black sweater—we know that it's the body of the baby, and so does Doc.
  • Doc almost cries out, but he manages to quietly follow Codi down to the same dry riverbed where she and her sister nearly drowned back when they were kids.
  • The river used to be called "Tortoise River," and the canyon is called "Tortoise Canyon."
  • Incidentally, it's the same place where Black Mountain Mining wants to divert Grace's river in order to avoid paying a fine for polluting it.
  • This seems like it's probably not a coincidence.
  • Meanwhile, back in the past, Doc watches Codi bury her stillborn baby and walk back to the house.
  • Once again, we get to see how Doc totally loved his daughters but was always truly, incredibly awful at showing it.
  • Doc waits around for Codi for hours, trying to figure out how to talk to her about all of this—and failing.
  • Then, Doc manages to give Codi some pills to stop her from bleeding when she complains that she has a headache.
  • Later, once Codi's gone to sleep, Doc goes out and covers the baby's grave with stones.
  • Back in the present, Doc's still in the darkroom, but he can't make his photograph come out looking like his memory.
  • Doc says that "the truth of that image can't be corrected"—implying that his whole goal here is to remake the past as a more beautiful memory (13.33).
  • In this case—and, it's implied, in the case of Codi's miscarriage—there is no way to pretty this mess up.

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