Study Guide

Animal Dreams Plants

By Barbara Kingsolver

Plants

At first, Animal Dreams sets up a neat dichotomy: Codi equals animals, and Hallie equals plants. Over the course of the novel, though, this analogy doesn't quite hold up. We see Codi gathering flowers and giving slug advice to people, and it seems as if she'll eventually be taking care of the garden at Doc's house. Animals and plants are symbolic of different things about the two sisters, but it turns out they're not the opposites that Codi has often imagined them to be. Instead, animals and plants, like the sisters, are interdependent.

Questions About Plants

  1. Why does Codi think she can't take care of a houseplant early in the novel? Is she right?
  2. What's the relationship between Emelina's gardening and her mothering?
  3. It turns out that Loyd owns an orchard in Graceā€”but he can have it only if he has a kid. Why is family associated so strongly with growing trees?
  4. Why do you think Kingsolver focuses on the rabbit brush growing up on the old alfalfa fields in the book's final scene?

Chew on This

Plants in Animal Dreams stand in for the earth's capacity to heal from the violence of pollution.

Over the course of the book, Codi's struggle to deal with the memories of her miscarriage are healed through her efforts to save the fruit trees themselves.

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