Animal Dreams

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Animal Dreams – Peacock Symbol Essay, Research Paper “‘Stop it!’ I yelled. My heart was thumping. ‘You’re killing that bird!’” – Codi Noline, Animal Dreams Those are the words of Codi Noline, a brave heroine with her mind set on rescuing a beautiful but defenseless peacock from horrible torture by a group of demented children on her first day back in her hometown of Grace, Arizona. Much to Codi’s chagrin, the bird turns out to be just a pi ata, spilling candy and bright treasures rather than a gory mass of blood and bone. The children aren’t a pack of hopelessly troubled youth engaging in animal mutilation for sport, only a normal group of kids participating in a party game very common to the Southwestern Mexico-influenced culture scared and confused by

a stranger’s outburst. Anyone who has seen a pi ata might wonder how a person without impaired vision could mistake one of those bright, artificial paper mache creations for a living animal, but sometimes an abnormal state of mind can make the world be viewed through a murkier haze than poor eyesight could ever produce. Codi’s misconception of the peacock incident is a rather humorous story, but it has a deeper underlying meaning. Things are not always as they seem, whether they are seen with the eyes, the mind, or the heart. This is a truth Codi learns a little more of every day she is home. Her own spiritual and emotional journeys are reflected in part by her changing views of the town’s pet birds, the peacocks. The town’s women founders, the blue-eyed, dark-haired

Gracela sisters from Spain, arrived to wed lonely gold miners and left the small town with a legacy of looks, legends, and unique wild birds. At first, the helplessness of the pi ata Codi believes is real “reminds her of her own powerlessness, and the fact that it has no defenders seems like her own lack of protection from Cary – 2 her various losses.” (DeMarr, 1999) Codi’s return is not the joyous homecoming of the student voted most popular in high school, but the return of one who has always felt different and alienated. She sees herself as an outsider because of her looks, her father’s insistence that his girls were better than everyone else, and her lack of childhood memories of Grace. Even before the incident with the pi ata, the peacocks pushed themselves to the

front of Codi’s mind by being the first thing she heard while walking through her quiet town. Their call is not a sweet song, or soft and soothing like a dove’s coo, but a piercing scream that sends shivers up the spine. In something as simple as their everyday language, the peacocks mirror the turmoil in Codi’s heart. Grace is “not without some of the attributes of paradise,” (Smiley, 1990) but the perfection is lost on Codi. She has come home in body, but not yet in spirit. As far back as she can remember, Codi’s father has told her that she and her sister Hallie were special. The girls’ mother died when they were little, and their father, Doc Homer, raised them mostly alone. He told the girls their ancestors weren’t from Grace, and took an almost obsessive

pride in bringing them up different. Doc Homer “protected” his daughters from things he felt other parents were negligent in allowing, like toy guns that lead to violence, regular shoes that lead to fallen arches, and common superstitions that lead to decreased intelligence. In this too, the peacocks played a part. Nearly every home in Grace featured a large vase filled with peacock feathers people picked up during their everyday business. When the vases got full, people would give the feathers to women of the town who used them to make the pi atas, and the process would begin again. Peacock feathers were a thing Doc Homer never allowed in his house because “the feathers were crawling with bird mites; he dreaded to Cary – 3 think what those old women’s houses harbored