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Animal Dreams

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For many, true self-discovery takes a lifetime to achieve. In Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Animal Dreams, main character Codi Noline locates the individual masked beneath her various facades. Through flashbacks and narration shifts, the story of a bright and rebellious girl's exodus and eventual return to her constrictive hometown, where she copes with the deaths of her controlling, intransigent and disdainful father and adored sister Hallie. At first, Codi is unable to prescribe a personality or trust herself; however, she later comprehends the significance of the stability and comfort that comes with understanding oneself.

As Codi herself declares: "few people know...clearly what they want. Most people can't even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain" (Kingsolver #). Certainly true of herself, Codi's tends to search for the approval of herself and others through conformity. All throughout her school career, Codi strove fruitlessly for compliance with the social guidelines of her provincial classmates. Within her small town, Codi's substantial height and unsightly orthopedic shoes, the use of which enforced by her father and the aloofness of her father set her apart from other students, though she tried desperately to find herself a place in the hierarchy. "Maneuvering for approval, I'd shortened it [her name] to Codi in the third grade, when Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express held favor with my would-be crowd" (Kingsolver 13). Symbol for her identity, Codi's full name, Cosima, is one of the first aspects of her heritage and, in fact, her character that she sheds; this example displays how willing she was to abandon anything that marked her as different or connected her to her father. Another instance of Codi's inability to commit to her true self, her tendency to fabricate completely a character and achievements for herself illustrates how far she is able to stray, without misgiving, from herself- though even her idea of that is misconceived. Codi explains: "sometimes I ...tell tales on buses and airplanes- it passes the time. And people love you for it. They'll believe anything if you throw in enough detail. Once I spent a transatlantic flight telling a somber, attentive man about a medical procedure I'd helped invent in Paris...I would be accepting a prestigious medical prize, the name of which I invented on the spot" (Kingsolver 12). This confession only re-emphasizes the continuing theme throughout the book: Codi honestly does not recognize who she is. She deceives herself, family and friends and even complete strangers



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