Study Guide

Animal Dreams Heroism

By Barbara Kingsolver

Heroism

At the beginning of Animal Dreams, Codi Noline tells us in no uncertain terms that she's no hero—especially not compared to her sister Hallie. Hallie herself, of course, pretty much hates the whole idea of heroism, and whenever people talk about it in this book, they tend to claim that heroes are somehow different from other people. Part of Codi's journey seems to be claiming some heroism for herself—not as something that makes her better than everyone else, but as a normal part of life.

Questions About Heroism

  1. Most of the heroic childhood memories in the book are ultimately assigned to Codi. Does that mean that Hallie's right, and Codi's the real hero in this family?
  2. Is Codi the hero of Grace? Does she save the town from the mine? Is Hallie the hero of her collective in Nicaragua?
  3. Do you think that Codi could have done more to save Hallie? Were her actions heroic? If not, what is the book's take on heroism in those circumstances?
  4. Why is Animal Dreams so critical of the idea of heroes?

Chew on This

Animal Dreams rejects the idea of heroism in favor of collective action. At the same time, the novel demonstrates how each person must act individually as part of a whole in order to get things done.

In Animal Dreams, the idea of wanting to be a hero is a distraction from what is actually important in life, which is doing what you're good at and what's important to you, day after day.

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