Study Guide

Animal Dreams Chapter 21

By Barbara Kingsolver

Chapter 21

Cosima: The Tissue of Hearts

  • Codi is back in Grace. She knows that Hallie has been kidnapped, and she's grieving hard.
  • One place this grief shows is definitely the classroom, where Codi subjects her students to a tirade on the real cost of consumer goods, complete with smacking the stone-washed-jean-covered butt of poor Simon Bolivar Jones's kid Hector.
  • Teachers, don't try this at school. The rules have clearly changed since the eighties.
  • Codi spends evenings with Doc, who's doing useful things like deciding that Hallie was always his favorite.
  • Codi decides that Doc made up that thing about calling the president—and, anyway, the long-distance phone call would be too expensive.
  • Doc also rarely knows which Codi he's talking to. One night, he tries to talk to her as if she's fifteen and dating Loyd for the first time in high school.
  • Codi says Doc always tried to separate her and Hallie from other people, and then she tells him she got pregnant at fifteen.
  • Doc, of course, knew this, so he's like, Yeah, I know. I watched you bury the baby in the riverbed. Duh.
  • Codi reasonably asks Doc why he's a huge lie-monster who pretended to be from Illinois when he was actually from Grace.
  • Astonishingly, Doc tells Codi the truth—that he and his family were the black sheep of the Gracela clan.
  • Codi asks why Doc came back at all, and he answers with a metaphor. Why do you think poets talk about hearts, when they're the toughest organ in the body? The liver is the really delicate thing.
  • Codi remembers a time when she watched a surgeon try to sew up a woman who'd been stabbed repeatedly in the liver: "you try to close the wound with fresh wounds...and you don't give up until there's nothing left" (21.84).
  • The idea is that if Doc was as tough as a heart, he would have started over somewhere else, but he had to go home and get some fresh wounds to try and fix his fragile ego.
  • That didn't go so incredibly well.
  • Codi apologizes to her students for freaking out at them, and she tells them about Hallie and Nicaragua. Then she takes some time off and makes phone calls to all the emergency numbers Hallie gave her.
  • The Nicaraguan Minister of Agriculture is the only one who will admit to knowing anything about it, and he tells Codi to call the president.
  • Meanwhile, Hallie's letters keep showing up because of the international time lag, but Codi doesn't read them.
  • Codi keeps writing and calling everyone except the president, which she's still too intimidated to do.
  • In the meantime, Grace is getting famous for its peacock piñatas. CBS comes to interview the Doña, and she is delightfully crotchety.

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