Pigs in Heaven
A phenomenal bestseller and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for fiction, Pigs in Heaven continues the story of Taylor and Turtle, first introduced in The Bean Trees.
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What is Alice conflicted about?
Works Progress Association (WPA) art is usually Art Deco in style. These artists ran the gamut from muralists to sculptors, sketch artists to playwrights and actors. Much of this art still exists, and can be found all over the county and in museums. (Pictured: a Hoover Dam Angel) (This annotation contains an image)
How is Turtle described here?
The extremes of the Hoover Dam (extreme height, extreme water pressure, extreme terrain, etc.) have resulted in numerous accidents and deaths. There are also many myths about the deaths that occurred during its construction. Read this short article from the Department of the Interior, and consider the concept of sacrifice for something greater than oneself. (This annotation contains a link)
Why might the authorities be quick to dismiss Turtle's story? Are any or all of these reasons valid?
How is this a moment of tension? Does Taylor handle such moments of conflict well? (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted text is an example of which literary element?
Which description best fits Jax?
Jax is a good conversationalist and an affable guy, but Alice's sadness here is due to her loneliness and lack of conversation at home. She is starved for company.
Why does Taylor say that Jax is a "problem"?
An Indian reservation is a designated section of land that is managed by a Native American tribe under the US Bureau of Indian Affairs. Here is a map of the reservations in the US. (Note: In Hawaii, a similar idea was enacted through the guise of 'Hawaiian Homelands.') (This annotation contains an image)
Outline specific examples of Taylor's confidence. Does her confidence have limits?
The National Enquirer is notorious for sensational headlines and gossip. This reference is an interesting setting detail, as the magazine was extremely popular in the 1980s (around the time the novel is set). Today's equivalent internet would be TMZ or Gossip Cop. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Taylor worried about?
The story of Mrs. O'Leary and her cow is infamous; it's even a famous campfire song ("Old Mrs. O'Leary"), and fodder for advertising (as seen in milk ad below). (This annotation contains an image)
This chapter marks a shift in
Annawake introduces not only another narrative point of view, but also a new cultural perspective that will be key to the theme of the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
What interest does Annawake have in Turtle? Why might the adoption of a Native American child require tribal permission?
The stomp dance will play a larger role later in the novel. Watch this video of a demonstration of a stomp dance up to the 3 minute mark. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the driving force behind Annawake's concern about Turtle's adoption?
How is this a common theme in this story? Consider the male characters that have been introduced so far in comparison with the likes of Taylor, Angie, and Annawake.
Why is Turnbo not as adamant about this case as Annawake?
Annawake traditionally faces the same challenge as most people who are educated by their "colonizer" (in Annawake's case, "white" / corporate America). It is what W.E.B. Du Bois called "double consciousness;" or having more than one social identity, which makes it difficult to develop a sense of self. (This annotation contains an image)
Determine what the merits of raising a child in this environment (essentially, an artist commune) would be.
What other characteristics of a turtle does Turtle possess? (This annotation contains an image)
Taylor asking Annawake to leave her "nation" is not only cruel, but also
Taylor using loud music to scare birds off is not the only way music can be used as a weapon. Read this article on how music is used as a tactic to wear down an enemy. How might this fit in with the theme of unintended consequences? (This annotation contains a link)
This reference to the Steinbeck novel is
This comparison has nothing to do with being crazy, and everything to do with righteous indignation. Crazy Horse fought against governmental encroachment on tribal way of life, and led the Oglala Lakota to victory at the Battle of Little Big Horn. (This annotation contains an image)
Interpret the meaning of this legend about the pigs in heaven.
Appraise the difference of opinion here. How does the cultural difference inform their points of view?
What is the significance of this day?
They are watching She-Devil (1989). (This annotation contains an image)
Despite Jax's breezy personality, it is obvious that he is also
Taylor's logic is not far-fetched. Here is an excerpt from an article from The Wall Street Journal on choosing the best line: "Most shoppers simply develop their own strategies and superstitions. 'I make my selection based on how full the carts of other shoppers are, the age of the person or if the person has children with him or her. These shoppers are almost always slower,' says Rebecca Mecomber, a married mom of four teenagers from Utica, N.Y. She also factors in the cashier's gender and age. 'Young male cashiers are usually faster but are very sloppy and careless when they bag items. Middle-age ladies are slower but take better care of glass objects.'" Do you have any of your own retail line tactics?
What do you think this line means? Would the idea have had "gravity" had they not found the money?
What does this clap of thunder symbolize? (This annotation contains a video)
For whom or what do Rose and Cash make jewelry?
Can you make any connections here? How does Cash's narrative link to Taylor's?
What is the effect of Rose's treatment by these different tourists?
Here is an example of the kind of beadwork that Rose might be doing in the store. (This annotation contains an image)
Can you interpret the significance of Cash's dream about his wife? Where is Cash going back to?
This is an odd figure of speech. What do you think it means? (This annotation contains an image)
Whose point of view are you experiencing here?
Consider why Turtle drinking milk is a recurring motif. (This annotation contains a video)
This woman's obsession with Barbie extends to her
Unpack this allusion. Why does she compare herself and her mother to Tom and Huck? (This annotation contains an image)
What is revealed about Barbie's character here? What is ironic about the "TM" remark?
In a way, Barbie's love for Barbie (TM) is a form of cult-like (hence the Moonies reference) obsession with consumerism. (This annotation contains an image)
How would you characterize Barbie's behavior here?
What is your opinion of Jax? Is his gallantry sincere? An affectation? Deflection?
What did Annawake hope to accomplish by sending this letter? Do you think it will be successful?
Philosophically, what is the difference between signing and not signing a painting? What point is Jax attempting to make here? (This annotation contains an image)
What can Annawake offer Turtle that Taylor cannot?
This is the second time a gossip magazine has been mentioned. What is the draw of these sensationalized magazines? Would Taylor's story fit in with these kinds of articles? (This annotation contains an image)
What kind of figurative language does Taylor use to describe the desert they are driving through?
Here is some sad news for Barbie - it is physically impossible for a woman to have the same measurements as the doll. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain Jax's analogy about the robin's egg in your own words. Do you agree with him?
A study came out recently showing that more and more young adults are choosing to live with their parents late into their 20s and early 30s. Read this article and consider how this will affect these individuals and the nation as a whole. (This annotation contains a link)
Alice uses what literary device to lighten the mood?
It is mentioned a couple of times that 'Fourkiller' is a common Cherokee name. In fact, if you search the Dawes Rolls of 1898 to 1906 (officially titled The Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory), numerous Fourkillers are listed. A William Fourkiller (from Tahlequah) is currently a representative in the Oklahoma State Legislature. (This annotation contains a link)
What is Taylor preoccupied with in regards to Annawake's letter?
Pay attention to how the character of Sugar becomes a unifying factor as the novel progresses.
Identify the tone of this section describing Cash's return to Oklahoma. Based on this, do you think that his return will be welcomed by his family and old friends? Explain.
Where have we heard about this picture before?
What does Turtle suffer from?
What do blue lips signify? Why might this be a bad omen?
Based on this physical description, who is Sugar talking about?
Compare and contrast Alice's family life to Sugar's. Can you tell what Alice's opinion of Sugar is?
Heaven, Oklahoma is not a real place; but, Tahlequah is a real city east of Oklahoma City. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you tell about Boma based on the description of her house?
Without specifically naming the city or state, how does the author describe this new setting?
Consider how the structural division of the narrative by season contributes to the overall theme. Can you make connections between the plot and the season in which the action takes place?
As an extension of the previous annotation about the connection between plot and season, predict the tone of this Fall section of the novel. Explain.
We are starting to see a shift in Taylor's point of view and perspective. What do you think is bringing this on?
Why does Taylor think that Kevin would be a good match for Barbie?
The peanut is a legume, in the same family as peas, beans, and lentils. (This annotation contains an image)
What is gone along with the photo cube?
Why is there awkward silence after Alice makes this statement? In what way is it true, even though it shouldn't be?
What options does Taylor have in this situation? What are the pros and cons of each of them?
Having so much family around is a new experience for Alice, who only has one daughter and no other relatives to speak of (except Sugar). Staying with Taylor would likely ensure the same kind of experience for Turtle. What would the benefits of having a large family be for Turtle?
What is Alice surprised by?
Speaking in tongues is also known as glossolalia. This usually occurs when a person feels overcome with spiritual sensation, almost as if in a trance. The veracity of the experience is up for debate.
Which of the following terms can be used to describe Earlene?
Read this article on how the Indian Child Welfare Act can have unintended consequences for the children involved. Do you have an opinion on this? How would Turtle respond to being taken from the only woman she has known as a mother? (This annotation contains a link)
How would you characterize the changing relationship between Annawake and Alice? Do you find this development surprising? Why or why not?
What do you think Annawake is planning based on her thoughts of Alice as "the woman from the family without men"? (This annotation contains an image)
Why doesn't Annawake set up Cash and Alice herself?
This is a biblical allusion to the parable of the sheep and the goats. In this story, the sheep are favored by God, and the goats are cursed. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Taylor jump at the chance to go on an outing with Steven?
Can you think of any other similar broken-heart songs? Do they have the same tone as this one?
Justify Taylor's choices since she left Phoenix. If you were Jax, would you be as patient?
Both Alice and Taylor tend to use idioms and other figures of speech like this often.
How does this sentiment apply to the main theme of the novel?
Do you think this pairing will be successful? How is Cash already an improvement on Harland?
What are Cash and Alice bonding over?
How would you characterize the pacing of this novel? Would you say that it is evenly paced? (This annotation contains a video)
The fact that we know he did not make this decision on his own, and Alice doesn't know this, is an example of
Alice seems okay with the idea that Letty has set her up with Cash. Do you think that she will be okay with the fact that Annawake is the one who orchestrated all of this with some ulterior motives?
Assess the scene at this stomp dance. Where do you see examples of traditional and contemporary culture intermixing?
Even when clans unite to create tribes or nations, individuals usually still associate themselves with their clan. Here is some information on the different clans in the Cherokee nation. Pay particular attention to the descriptions for the Bird and Wolf clans. (This annotation contains a link)
The idea that the chanting might not mean anything is similar to what other concept?
Here is what the Cherokee Nation has to say about registering as a member: "Today the Cherokee Nations is more than 315,000 citizens strong, young and old. To be eligible for Cherokee Nation citizenship, individuals must provide documents connecting them to an enrolled direct ancestor who is listed on the Dawes Roll with a blood degree. CDIB/Tribal Citizenship is traced through natural parents. In cases of adoption, CDIB/Citizenship must be proven through a biological parent to an ancestor registered on the Dawes Roll." How would Taylor and Alice benefit from registering?
Why does Alice feel guilty for doing this?
You can now search the Dawes Rolls online. If you click on the card number, you will see individuals and how much Cherokee heritage (blood) they have. (Some have listed 1/128 blood!) (This annotation contains a link)
Does this change Annawake's stance about Taylor's adoption of Turtle? Was it simply the fact that Taylor was not officially Cherokee that Annawake objected to?
Has your opinion of this situation changed since the beginning of the novel? For example, does Annawake seem as unreasonable as she perhaps appeared initially? Does the known existence of Turtle's grandfather make difference in your estimation?
What does Annawake mean by "contracted families"?
The importance of cultural heritage is an important theme of the novel. The differences of point of view when it comes to culture is also significant, as evidenced here in this disagreement between Alice and Annawake. (This annotation contains a video)
How would you characterize the atmosphere in the Greer house here?
This is an extended metaphor. Why do you think the added detail of the color of the potatoes is included? (This annotation contains a video)
What does Taylor's willingness to make the concession of accepting money from Jax reveal about her situation? In one word, how would you summarize Taylor's state of mind?
The cost of raising a child in the United States from birth to the age of 18 is in excess of $245,000 (as stated in this article). What accounts for such a high number? (This annotation contains a link)
What can this realization of Taylor's be considered as?
Kunutche is a traditional dish made of ground nuts, and usually fried.
How is Cash different from the previous men in Alice's life?
Kitty Carlisle was a singer, actress, professional game show contestant, and spokesperson for the National Council of the Arts. She died in 2007. (This annotation contains an image)
What are the chances that Turtle is the chosen one? How does she fit the description?
What do you make of the coincidences that brought all of these characters together? Is it believable? Would you call it coincidence/serendipity, or is it convenience on the writer's part?
Alice seemed happy with Cash, so why is she so upset with Annawake for setting them up?
This constellation is also called Pleiades. (This annotation contains an image)
What literary devices does the author use to describe Annawake here?
This is an example of hyperbole, or over exaggerated language. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on this sentiment alone, do you believe that Alice and Cash's short-lived romance is completely over?
Do you think that this was Barbie's only "secret"? Did you catch that this character detail before Taylor did?
Who is Alice probably referring to with this statement?
What does Gabriel symbolize to Annawake?
What is the significance of this Cherokee elder using the bible as a way to guide Annawake in making her decision?
Gaming on tribal land can be a controversial issue. Read this brief article that is for gaming on Indian land, and consider how you would formulate a counterpoint. (This annotation contains a link)
How are Cash's and Taylor's reactions during the hearing similar so far?
This is what Annawake was hinting at with her attempt to get them together in the first place. Is this all heading toward a happy ending?
How has Taylor also gained a family through this whole ordeal? Predict what is going to happen with Alice and Cash, Turtle and Cash, and Taylor and Jax.