Kingsolver should be given an award or a degree in philosophy, and fast!
Her work in this novel regarding underlying philosophy is extraordinary! She definitely surpassed the high bar of standard set by her previous novels, philosophically, with Pigs In Heaven. The events, characters, and emotions she has written for us ties in and leads to an inferred final philosophy. That philosophy will be revealed at the end of this post.
To start, Turtle is a little girl with a lot of mystery stuffed into her. Her "luminous" black eyes portray so much depth as the novel continues that they mesmerize me when I imagine them (Pigs 15). Her serious face, I guess you could call it, should never be taken for granted, nor misunderstood. Her somber eyes are black holes which lead to places all but pleasant. Her way of reacting to troubling situations is to return to this dour disposition. At one point, when Taylor was observing Turtle's eyes, "she [knew] Turtle [was] in there but the blank, dark windows [were] glossed over like loveless eyes, revealing nothing" (Pigs 292). They say that eyes are windows to the heart. Well, if Turtle's eyes were blank and dark, I'm sure you can deduce the rest of Kingsolver's imagery....
However, Turtle isn't a completely gloomy girl! In fact, it's Taylor whose "heart is an empty canyon," even at the end of the novel (Pigs 341). It's Taylor who calls herself "loveless, hopeless, [and] blind" (Pigs 320). Turtle is the one who can find joy after the most glum situations. What could be the cause of this role switch?
The answer is Turtle. Turtle, who has "been marked in life by a great many things" leaves her mark on Taylor (Pigs 12). Not in a negative way, either. No, Taylor loves Turtle, and Turtle "hasn't deliberately let go of Taylor since they met" (Pigs 14). So when Taylor was stripped of this enigmatic little girl, she became exactly what she was missing.
The next character, whom I feel I must discuss, is one who's impact on the other characters isn't set in stone. This is because her character is as slippery and deceiving as a snake. The sad part is that if what she represents, rather if what her namesake represents, has any snake-like qualities, our country is in grave danger.
Indeed, the controversial, teeter-tottering child's toy has found her way into both Kingsolver's novel and my post on how her novel is philosophical. Barbie is a character who unsuspectedly slips into the life of Turtle and Taylor Greer. Her intentions and thoughts silent, Taylor allows her to tag along with them. The way she dresses and speaks follows her idol's mannerisms, and her manager at the Vegas restaurant she worked at just couldn't take it anymore. He just so happened to fire her at the time when Taylor and Turtle visited the restaurant.
However, I don't fear for the "model representation" of American women because of how unstable her personality is, complete with her "relationsihp with the bathroom ... every time she eats something" (Pigs 161). Yes, she has the eating disorder known as bulimia. Barbie is a character to fear because Taylor found "silver dollars. Hundreds of them, in the silk-lined cave of Barbie's black purse" (Pigs 167). The purse that she kept with her at all times was so valuable because of exactly that: it's high value. Barbie, the representation of the ideal American girl, was a thief.
Before tying it all together, I'd like to introduce one more event. Alice, Taylor's mom, is lured into the Cherokee reservation by a love interest named Cash Stillwater. Of course, Annawake Fourkiller, the lawyer trying to find Turtle, played Cupid for this relationship. Alice goes to the reservation with low hopes, but soon, "for the first time she can remember, Alice feels completely included" (Pigs 271). She actually has family there, real family, because her "Grandmother Stamper was full-blooded" (Pigs 267). She finds a connection with the Cherokee, her long-lost people of sorts, and is changed 'for the better' while spending time there. However, she must sign a paper in order to reinstate herself as a member of that Cherokee reservation. Nevertheless, Alice shows us that stubbornness can disappear, and that old assumptions can be dissuaded.
So what's the grand philosophy that I have inferred Kingsolver had in mind while writing the novel, that is exemplified by these things? It's the idea that people have the power to change both themselves and others, and that no assumption can ever be set in stone.
~Father Nature, Editor