Comparing the Messages of Animal Dreams and The Bean Trees

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Political and Social Messages of Animal Dreams and The Bean Trees

Perhaps The Poisonwood Bible is Barbara Kingsolver's best work. It was while reading this book (which centers around The Congo and what the western world has done to this country) that I began to make the connection that all of Kingsolver's books contain a political and social message. She uses her stance as an author to illuminate her readers to situations and issues that she feels are important. Kingsolver's voice can be heard in Animal Dreams when the main character, Codi talks about what happened to her sister, Hallie in Nicaragua, and how unaware Americans were to what was happening in that country. "It made the news in Tucson, at least for a day. You just forgot. That's the great American disease, we forget. We watch the disasters parade by on TV, and every time we say: 'Forget it. This is someone else's problem" (Animal Dreams 316).

The Bean Trees touches on the plight of refugees, both in the real life struggle of a Guatemalan couple living illegally in the US, as well as her main character that in a way is a refugee herself, although only from Kentucky. In Animal Dreams, Kingsolver looks at the people living in Nicaragua and how the US government was/is involved. While the characters and personal stories are fictionalized, the situation seems taken from real life headlines. Kingsolver also touches on environmental issues in Animal Dreams, through the people of the fictional town of Grace, Arizona's struggle against an all consuming mines attempt to poison their water and crops.

For this paper I decided to focus on Barbara Kingsolver's first two novels, The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams. The first topic that ...

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Duval, Alex. "Shafted: How Phelps Dodge Strips Miners Of Their Rights."

Tucson Weekly 19 March 1998. 25 March 1998 <http://www.weeklywire.com/tw/03-19-98/Curr3.html>.

Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal Dreams. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.

___. The Bean Trees. New York: HarperCollins, 1988.

___. High Tide in Tucson: Essays From Now or Never.New York:

HarperCollins, 1995.

Perry, Donna. Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993.

Schutz, Jorian Polis. "The Impact of the Sandinistas on Nicaragua." Jorian Polis Shutz, 1998. <http://www.jorian.com/san.html>.

Smiley, Jane. "In One Small Town, the Weight of the World." New York Times on the Web. 2 September 1990. 18 October 1998. <http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/18/specials/kingsolver-animal.html>.

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