Barbara Kingsolver\'s "Animal Dreams": Alice


She is dead. She does not appear physically but haunts mentally. She is
Codi and Hallie\'s mother Alice, the late wife of Homero Noline. Throughout the
novel Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, Alice impacted the characters, action,
and theme(s).
When Alice passed away she took part of Homer with her. What she left
was a misfit of time and circumstance; an emotionally distraught and distant man
who attempted to resemble a father but veered more towards the tin man. Homero
existed beyond his wife as only a page out of an instruction manual, the one
with the caution statement. Homero\'s delicate heart decided that the only way
to endure Alice\'s death was to flush any remembrance or resemblance of her out
of his fortified technical realm which throughout the novel becomes increasingly
skewed. Kingsolver pushes home this idea by omitting Alice from any of Homer\'s
frequent flashbacks which are usually mishaps from the past involving his
daughters. These incidents are his only recollection of his daughters\'
estranged childhood in which he strained to create slippery and unmothered
women.
Homer\'s fear of becoming attached to anything which reminded him of
Alice resulted in an unorthodox childhood for Hallie and Codi. Homero was more
of a child mechanic than a father. Retaining only his technical aptitude after
Alice died all he could do was provide his kids with orthopedic shoes and the
correct medicine. When not fixing Codi or Hallie\'s present or future ailments
Homero took photographs of natural objects and slyly transformed them into man-
made devices by doing what he seemed to be best at, distorting images.
Codi, similar to her father mentally blocked out her past. Her
childhood remained within her as only a series of stained and misplaced memories.
Codi attempted to follow in her father\'s emulsion lined footprints, fixing
every one of life\'s problems with an internal wrench. By approaching life
from behind this falsified image Codi managed to distance herself from
everything and everyone who could have hurt her. One aspect of life and time in
which Codi was bred to be distanced from is the past. As Codi grew older she
began wondering about her family\'s past. Homer basically told her they had no
past. So with no past and no identity, Codi lived, searching for security and
stability through a mother figure. Everywhere Codi went she managed to find a
mother figure. Whether it be a man or a woman friend or even Hallie, Codi hid
herself in other\'s security. This search for stability is catalyzed by the lack
of a mother in Codi\'s childhood. The lack of maternal instinct in Codi left her
with no sense of direction, therefore; she searched aimlessly for years, for
herself.
When Codi returns to her childhood home in Grace, Arizona she discovers
she does have a past, both in her lifetime and prior to it. Contrary to what
Homero told her, her original family was from Grace, her roots were there. The
absence of Alice lays down a theme for the novel: you must return to your roots
to find your identity. This is feasible because Codi had to come back to her
family\'s origin and her mother\'s resting place to finally find her self.
Throughout the novel Animal Dreams there is an invisible presence which
effects the characters, action, and theme. The reason why this presence is so
dramatic and forceful is the fact that it is a spiritual presence, one which we
will never meet.

Category: English