Study Guide

Animal Dreams Home and Family

By Barbara Kingsolver

Home and Family

Home is what Codi Noline is looking for in life.

Well, she thinks she's looking, anyway. Her friend Emelina accuses her of being a "home ignorer" because, among other things, her walls are so bare—but it's a pretty apt description of Codi's personality, too. In fact, Animal Dreams is basically the story of Codi learning not to ignore the fact that she has a home both in Grace and in her own identity. By the end, we're pretty sure she's ready to hang a few pictures on the walls, but it sure takes her a while to get there.

Questions About Home and Family

  1. How does Animal Dreams develop and complicate the symbolic relationship between birds and homemaking? What does this symbolism have to do with Codi's eventual rejection of flight?
  2. Hallie says that Americans are too materialistic, Loyd thinks people should be as unattached to stuff as coyotes, and Codi has no pictures on her walls. What is the relationship between home and stuff in Animal Dreams? Is stuff always bad?
  3. How are home and family connected to the theme of memory in Animal Dreams? Is it possible to be at home in a place where you didn't grow up and don't have a life's worth of memories?
  4. Do you think that Loyd and Codi will take over Doc's house after he dies? What would it mean if they did, and what would it mean if they just up and moved to Tucson?

Chew on This

In Animal Dreams, the idea of nesting, or making a home somewhere, is connected symbolically to birds. For Codi, peacocks represent home, while for Loyd, it's fighting cocks that do the representin'. As the narrative progresses, however, Loyd leaves his birds behind. Ultimately, while nesting is important, Animal Dreams places primary importance on living a life you can be proud of, not just a life that's like the one your parents lived before you.

Codi has actually a home her whole life in Grace; it's only by the end of the novel that she realizes she's been ignoring it for years.

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