Animal Dreams


Animal Dreams

The Discovery of Life Through Death

In Barbara Kingsolver's novel Animal Dreams, the protagonist, Codi Noline, is unable to become self aware until the death of her sister, Hallie. Throughout the novel Codi's dependency on her sister the apparent cause. When Hallie ventures to Nicaragua to show the farmers how to replenish the land Codi returns to the small town of Grace, Arizona to aid her ailing father, Doc Homero. Hallie's departure in combination with Doc Homero's bout with Alzheimer disease allows Codi an opportunity to confront her past and insecurities. Because Codi's insecurities are temporarily subdued by Hallie's constant presence, Codi is never given an opportunity to examine her feelings of insecurities until Hallie's departure to Nicaragua and more so with her death.
The emergence of Codi's insecurities begins with the death of Codi's mother. This leaves Codi and her sister to be raised by their father, Doc Homero. Doc Homero is distant and aloof towards his daughters. Doc Homero's inability to display his emotions define distinct characteristics of Codi's behavior. Specifically, Codi's familial needs became centered around Hallie. Codi and Hallie identify themselves as orphans incapable of understanding their father's coldness. Codi and Hallie become dependent on each other for emotional nourishment. Codi describes her attachment to Hallie as being, "like keenly mismatched Siamese twins conjoined at the back of the mind"(page 8). Hallie becomes Codi's only definition and source of family. Codi becomes extremely dependent on Hallie in this aspect.This is the beginning of Codi's development of insecurities. In addition, Doc Homero's aloofness with the town people develops Codi's own feelings of inacceptance. To explain, Doc Homero has personal feelings of being an outsider in Grace and he displaces these feelings onto his daughters. This is exemplified in the way Hallie describes Doc Homero's self-sufficiency, "Being like no one else, being alone, was the central ethic of his life. Mine too, to some extent, not by choice but by default"(p 69). This depicts how he displaced his feelings onto Codi. Consequently, Codi's own perception of not being accepted by the town people emerges. Furthermore, Codi's insecurities develop into a strong dependeny on Hallie in different aspects in order to deal with her feelings.
A direct result of Codi's insecurities is the development of Hallie as a primary source of security from her feelings. She is for Codi a safe haven she can escape to when problems become overwhelming or perplexing. Hallie is defined as stability in this facet. Hallie offers a blanket of protection from Codi's personal insecurities. Codi's dependence on Hallie as a haven from her feelings is evident in Codi's reaction to her old, high school friend,Emelina's recollection of Codi's childhood protests of killing chickens, "No, that was Hallie. She the one that had such a soft heart. We've always been real different that way" (page 29). Codi's recollection of Hallie as the one who protested the death of animals when in fact it was Codi shows that Codi has no realization of her own cares and sensitivities because she projects them upon Hallie. Codi's inability to distinguish her individual feelings from Hallie's is because she continually projects them onto Hallie so she doesn't have to deal with them.
Another result of Codi insecurities is her dependency on Hallie for a sense of direction and purpose. Hallie has a knowledge of direction that seems to escape Codi. Hallie knows what she wants to do and what is necessary to attain it. Codi however, drifts through life with no specific purpose. She maintains her existence anywhere that doesn't require any effort or emotional discomfort to her. Codi interprets Hallie's move to Nicaragua as an example of Hallie's keen sense of direction and her own lack of one. Codi doesn't see any future direction for herself, "I had no mission beyond personal survival; it was nothing like Hallie's going to Nicaragua"(page 107). Codi's lack of direction also stems from her dominant feelings of being an outsider. Codi has never felt accepted by any environment and she is constantly amazed by Hallie's instant ability to become comfortable. For example, she tells these feeling to Hallie in a letter expressing her admiration for Hallie at being able to be compatible with the environment surrounding her "All I want is to be like you, to be brave, to walk into