Study Guide

Animal Dreams Earth

By Barbara Kingsolver

Earth

At some point in Animal Dreams, Codi says that before moving to Grace, she didn't know there could be so many shades of brown. Well, folks, this should come as no surprise, given that dirt plays a pretty big role in this novel. We've got graves, dead cropland, orchard soil, riverbeds—there's dirt everywhere here. That dirt, by the way, is usually being poisoned, salted, filled with human remains, or in other ways made barren—sort of like Codi's identity for most of the novel.

Things change, but it sure does take a while, and it isn't easy.

Questions About Earth

  1. When Codi remembers the alfalfa fields where her mother died, they're full of grain. Now they're barren from too much salt. What's the connection between Codi's mom and the dead fields?
  2. It's notable that the Black Mountain Mining Company plans to route the newly dammed river right over the place where Codi buried her miscarried infant. What's the symbolism of that move?
  3. When Loyd tells Codi that he'd die for the land, he doesn't mean the nation. What does he mean, and why is it important to understand the difference between Pueblo and Anglo ideas about the earth?
  4. Do you think everyone in Grace owns an orchard? Is Grace, Arizona a kind of realized version of the agricultural society Hallie's trying to help create in Nicaragua? What might be the relationship of people who don't own land in Grace to the Stitch and B**** movement to save Grace's river?

Chew on This

In Animal Dreams, land is like the human mind in that it remembers and in a sense lives with the effects of violence.

In Animal Dreams, identity is ultimately based on place.

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