Animal Dreams

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Although born and raised in Grace, Arizona and now returning to the town as an adult, Codi Noline has never felt like Grace is her home in the novel Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver.Early on she says "I was a stranger to Grace" (12).When the novel opens, it is quickly learned that Doc Homero, Codi's father, no longer wants his girls, Codi and Hallie, to go to the graveyard for the Day of All Souls."He decides this will be their last year for the cemetery and the Day of All Souls" (4).The reader assumes that maybe Doc Homer doesn't want his girls going to the cemetery because their mother is buried there.This may make them feel lost without their mother there to enjoy the holiday with them.The reader soon finds out, though, that maybe the cemetery has more to hide than originally anticipated when Codi returns there as an adult to find a peculiarly marked gravestone. "Then I found one that stopped me dead" (164).Codi finds a stone that says'Homero Nolina.'She then begins to question her past, asking Viola everything she knows about the Nolina family, especially who Homero Nolina was and why her own father's name only differs by one letter.In Chapter 13, Doc Homero lets the reader know that he did in fact change his name. "His name is gone.He understands that this is his own fault.He took a pen to paper and changed it, canceled his ancestors…" (137).Kingsolver leaves the reader wondering why Doc Homero would change his name and if he has something to hide.The cemetery incidents make the reader understand why Codi is having trouble with her identity and belonging; how can you belong somewhere and not understand how?I feel the novel will soon reveal a key component that brings Doc Homero's secret out into the open and that will help Codi find her place in her family, Grace, and the world.