Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Animal Dreams: Particularly Philosophical

In this novel, Kingsolver pulls out all the stops. Both one-liner philosophical messages and extended philosophical and psychological beauty are portrayed by Kingsolver in this grand finale of a novel for my blog.

While one-liner's may seem insignificant, surface-level thoughts like these are what makes most people "ooh" and "ahh" as they think deeper. These moments of "deep thought" lead to the deeper, more extensive philosophical messages that will silence a reader, which is necessary for the reader to reflect to try to see the connection with his or her personal life and with the philosophy.
With that said, I will list some significant 'one-line' philosophical ideas straight from Barbara's mouth, and let them speak for themselves, for once....

"love weighs nothing" (Animal 335).
"Family constellations are fixed things. They don’t change just because you’ve learned the names of the stars” (Animal 328).
“Words only cover the experience of living” (Animal 325).
“So much of life is animal instinct: desire and yawning and fear and the will to live” (Animal 319).
"...people worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it’s the same amount of infinity, rolling out in all directions from where we stand” (Animal 317).
"If you’re dead when somebody stabs you, you don’t feel it” (Animal 309).
“Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier” (Animal 286).
It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time” (Animal 280).
“I wished I could bottle that passion for accomplishment and squeeze out some of the elixir, a drop at a time, on my high school students. They would move mountains” (Animal 273).
"...when you’re happy and in love and content with your life you can’t remember how you ever could have felt cheated by fate” (Animal 269).
"The greatest honor you can give a house is to let it fall back down into the ground" (Animal 235).
"What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive" (Animal 224).
“You can’t let your heart go bad like that, like sour milk. There’s always the chance you’ll want to use it later” (Animal 223).
“We’re all scared to be too happy about what we’ve got, for fear somebody’ll notice and take it away" (Animal 220).
"What you lose in blindness is the space around you, the place where you are, and without that you might not exist. You could be nowhere at all” (Animal 204).
“If I kept trying to be what everybody wanted, I’d soon be insipid enough to fit in everywhere” (Animal 201).
“I laughed, since the other choice was to cry” (Animal 183).
"...hope for nothing at all in the way of love, so as not to be disappointed" (Animal 117).
“Poverty in a beautiful place seemed not so much oppressive as sublime” (Animal 107).
“If I could have drawn blood, if I’d known how to do that with words instead of a needle, I would have" (Animal 61).
“…children robbed of love will dwell on magic” (Animal 50).
“Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth but not its twin” (Animal 48).
"Mountains don’t move. They only look changed when you look down on them from a great height” (Animal 36).
“People change…not everything stays with you all your life” (Animal 31).

With those philosophies read to prepare your mind, this upcoming idea will soak in like water into a sponge: Living to honor someone else's life will get you nowhere in life.

With the philosophy stated, as a sort of summary of the novel's many philosophies, you may not want to continue reading this post. However, the stated philosophy is the deepest level of thinking. To see the steps that led me to that conclusion, continue reading this post.

Hallie is a recurring theme of Codi's speech. Even her Dad's apathetic, out-of-the-loop eyes noticed, pretty early on, that "Cosima knows she's the older, even when she's unconscious" (Animal 3). Codi is "the sister who didn't go to war," and while she claims she "can only tell... [her] side of the story," she tries and tries to tell Hallie's, too (Animal 7). Her sentences about her past almost always use "Hallie and I" as the subject, versus a singular "I" (Animal 8). Readers learn countless things about Hallie, such as the fact that she "had such a soft heart" and that "she'd cry if she stepped on a bug" (Animal 29). It's almost as if Codi lives to tell Hallie's tale. And that's all she ever does. I will elaborate on Hallie's world in another post, but the matter to grasp now is that Codi has let every tribulation of Hallie's become one for herself. Codi can't live a full life knowing every single detail about Hallie's, however she would probably die of grief if she didn't know everything.

Codi calls her life a "pitiful, mechanical thing without a past" (Animal 199). And it's true, because for some odd reason, she can't remember simple acts about her past in Grace, such as the "directions to [her] own home" (Animal 47). What is the cause of this case of amnesia? I doubt physical head trauma, since Codi doesn't mention that. Therefore it must be something internal. Something we can't see with the plain eye. Codi had "never drawn a breath [in Grace] without Hallie" (Animal 45). Perhaps Codi doesn't think she can do it. She has a psychological barrier between herself and Grace, and only Hallie can take that barrier down. With her guard up, almost nothing can penetrate it, and this is why Hallie has "forgotten" so much about her hometown.

Without going into detail about Grace, I hope you fully understand Kingsolver's home-hitting message: Live everyday for you. Don't dwell on the details of someone else's life over those that are your own.

~Father Nature, Editor

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