Study Guide

Animal Dreams Animals

By Barbara Kingsolver

Animals

There are a few sentences from Animal Dreams that will probably stay with us for the rest of our lives. "'Collie's a cock mechanic,' Loyd said" is one of them (16.113). Obviously, that's because this sentence expresses so neatly the ways that animals are tied to an idea of vocation throughout the novel. Animals can't help doing what they do—and dreaming about it—every day. That's what Hallie and Loyd want to be like, but Codi has to learn to work toward a life in which, like Jack the dog, she does what she's good at and knows how to do—and feels that it's enough.

Questions About Animals

  1. Jack the dog survives drowning in a river, is half dog and half coyote, and acts as a go-between in Codi and Loyd's relationship. Is Jack the dog a symbol for the baby that Codi lost?
  2. Codi sometimes compares Loyd to an animal—she says his hair is "animal black" for instance. Given the history of dehumanizing indigenous Americans, do you think that kind of language is racist? If so, is it Codi being racist? Is Kingsolver?
  3. This novel makes animals its best examples of the right way to live, yet Codi and Loyd agree that animals, unlike humans, are not meant to live long and happy lives. Is this a contradiction?

Chew on This

Codi's identification with animals illustrates her fundamental difference from her plant-loving sister, Hallie.

In Animal Dreams, it seems as if the problem with humans is that they're constantly trying to deny the fact that they are animals like all others.

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