Study Guide

Animal Dreams Chapter 5

By Barbara Kingsolver

Chapter 5

The Semilla Besada

  • Codi has breakfast with Emelina's family and learns that Juan Teobaldo (a.k.a. J.T.), Emelina's husband, has a dangerous job on the railroad, like a lot of men in Grace.
  • Also, the dude's mom is Viola Domingos, the same person who used to take Codi and Hallie to the Day of the Dead festivities when they were kids.
  • Codi talks some more about Carlo's eyebrows, and about how she stayed with him for ten years hoping he could be her "guiding star" and give her life some direction—but he never did (5.55).
  • We also learn that the blue eyes and black hair everyone's got in Grace is a genetic anomaly that only exists in this town. Everyone is related to everyone else, and to the original Gracela sisters.
  • Doc Homer once wrote an article about Grace's weird gene pool for the American Journal of Genetics, with photographs of the "whitish, marblelike irises" of particularly pure specimens (5.57).
  • When your dad thinks of all the other kids as specimens, it's hard to make friends.
  • Anyway, all this talk of babies makes Codi want to hold one, so she grabs up Nicholas, Emelina's baby boy, and thinks about how she almost had a baby herself once.
  • Wait, what? Guess we'll find out more about that later…
  • Codi has a sudden, forceful memory of Emelina's grandmother, who had called her and Hallie "las huérfanas," which means "the orphans" in Spanish. That was pretty mean.
  • After breakfast, Codi and Emelina go out on the town—er, to the grocery store—to pick up some supplies.
  • Everyone Codi and Emelina meet on the way is super awkward with Codi, and it makes her feel lonely. She thinks about how Doc used to drill them on how much better they were than everyone else in Grace.
  • Later that night, Codi heads out to Doc's house, although, weirdly, she can't seem to remember how to get there.
  • In fact, Codi reflects, she has a pretty awful memory generally. Oh, yeah? We hadn't noticed. She remembers things she wasn't there for and forgets things she was there for.
  • One of Codi's extremely clear memories of things she didn't see is the death of her mother. She remembers a helicopter coming to airlift her mother to the hospital just after Hallie's birth, and she remembers her mother dying before the helicopter lifted off.
  • We also find out that Codi thinks her father never really loved them—though we know from Doc's own point of view that this is not true.
  • Codi believes that Hallie's radiant goodness was more like a miracle than an outcome of excellent parenting, and she compares Hallie to a "Semilla Besada," which is the name for a fruit tree that "bears radiant bushels of plums while the trees around it merely go on living" (5.102). We learn that Hallie and Codi had a favorite semilla besada in the Domingos orchard where they buried locks of their hair as kids.
  • Codi finds her dad's house but then turns around, not wanting to see it looking all creepy in the moonlight.
  • Codi thinks about the fact that no one in Grace knows she lost not only her mother, but also her child.

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