Being the sequel of The Bean Trees, Kingsolver's Pigs In Heaven features the same principal characters in the same world. The crisis is the same, however with different characters putting the stress on the equilibrium of Taylor and Turtle Greer. As Taylor "grips her daughter's arm ... protectively," she can't help but recall that "this child is the miracle [she] wouldn't have let in the door if it had knocked" (Pigs 10).
Turtle is an example of things that come into our lives, intrude into our worlds, when we are in no position to deny entry. It doesn't matter if the intruder is a benefit or a deficit to the world, it must be welcomed with open arms, simply to encourage that possibility of it being beneficial.
In this case, Turtle's "snap-jawed grip is a principle of [her] relationship" with Taylor; "she hasn't deliberately let go of Taylor since they met" (Pigs 14). Love is the obvious word, necessity being the subtler, more accurate one.
However, Taylor is being hunted. Annawake Fourkiller, a lawyer of the Cherokee Nation, is convinced that Taylor "was trying to take a Cherokee kid out of the Nation" (Pigs 57). Living in a time when "people like [her]" need to "watch out for the kids" in the tribe because of the social-service standards (Pigs 57). Turtle's earlier line of "legacy" is supposed to ensure her safety, her place in the tribe (Pigs 89). Annawake's determination to 'rescue' Turtle clashes and clangs with the strength of Taylor's bond with Turtle in this custody triangle.
So who's right? With the both of the protagonists of the novel being "heroes" of their own kind, who is the audience supposed to side with (Pigs 160)? Taylor is an example of those mommies who would "throw themselves in front of traffic or gunfire to save their offspring," who puts themselves "second, every time, no questions asked" (Pigs 155). However Annawake is abiding by the law of her reservation, and trying to ensure others are, too. They are both striving to make a significantly positive influence on someone else's life. Yet they are acting in opposition to one another.
While Kingsolver could have easily made this feud last the entire book, "it's peacefulness that is hard to come by on purpose" (Pigs 224). If Taylor and Annawake met and discussed their differences to come to a conclusion, it would be that inimitable, paramount, and anti-climactic ending that author's strive to achieve.
Taylor's travels take her and Turtle to the Indian Reservation, ready to confront Annawake Fourkiller and settle what needs to be settled. There, she enters a world usually unbeknown to the rest of civilization, a world where "you don't have to bother much with pretending you're not poor" (Pigs 229). A world that's "not like some country club or something. It's just family. It's kindly like joining the church. If you get around to deciding you're Cherokee ... then that's what you are" (Pigs 271). A world that needed the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act just to insure guarantee the protection of their children from the American government. Kingsolver depicts the world of the Cherokee after the "Trail of Tears" that "happened in 1838" (Pigs 281). In this world of newly made rules, overprotection, and dynamic culture, Taylor is pushed to extend her family such that she must "[share] Turtle with strangers" (Pigs 339). She finds it difficult, as any new mother would, but it's a struggle that she must endure for the sake of her bond with Turtle.
This world depicts the ideal life perfectly.
Without spoiling what happens to Turtle and Taylor and Annawake, I hope that I've stressed the message depicted by the setting of this novel: the world we live in is crucial to the results of the events that we partake in.
~Father Nature, Editor