To her great surprise in early April, Codi receives a letter from the school board informing her that her contract has been renewed for the following year. The letter acknowledges her great popularity among the students and commends her for her innovation and development in the curriculum. She takes the letter straight to Loyd's house.

At Loyd's, Codi shows him the letter proudly but still says she doesn't plan to stay. For the first time, Codi asks Loyd about his work on the trains. He describes the complicated process of breaking. That night, Codi tells Loyd about the photographs and everything she's been thinking for the past few months. Codi mentions the importance of her fifteenth year, but when Loyd asks her what happened when she was fifteen, she offers him only a vague answer. As Loyd tries to comfort her and to tell her how much she is wanted in Grace, Codi realizes that by not informing him about their child, she keeps herself just far enough apart from him to leave whenever she wants.

Finally, Codi reads all of Hallie's letters. She struggles to understand Hallie's advice that "the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope." Codi rereads all of Hallie's letters, looking for some sign of hope or else for a farewell message, but she finds neither. That night, Codi has the same nightmare she has had many times before of going blind, but she realizes that it is a dream of the flash from her father's camera, as he photographed her eyes when she was a newborn. She goes on dreaming of her own child, and of herself burying it by the riverbed, with Hallie at her side.

Analysis

Although the government's faulty policies are responsible for Grace's impending doom, they are also responsible for the possibility of its salvation. Just as Codi must reach into her own family history in order to give her life a sense of purpose, so will the people of Grace need to draw on the history of their community in order to spare the river from damming: the only way to save Grace is to register it with the federal government as a Historic Place. It is not, however, thanks to the mayor or any other government official that the women learn about the possibility of registering Grace as a Historic Place. The piñata sales attracted an art collector, a private citizen who through his own line of work is an expert in US history and in the efforts to preserve it. The information is shared not in a town meeting, but at the Stitch and Bitch Club, which has become almost a parallel governing body. The great difference between the Stitch and Bitch Club and the town meetings, however, is the gender balance. Where the lawyers employed by the men can come up with only a ten-year lawsuit, the direct action of the women leads to a serendipitous connection that will allow an almost immediate remedy. It is only outside of the patriarchal structure that positive action can be taken, although some of that action does include accessing elements of the structure.

Codi's research into the history of Grace, for documentation supporting the Historic Place Petition, leads her to discover the full truth of her own past. It is only by devoting herself to the community that Codi finds herself, in the community. Codi's discovery of her double Gracela heritage does not however immediately lead her to a sense of belonging. First, she must address her father's problems. Armed with her newfound information, Codi must convince her father of the very same thing she needs to realize: that he has always been a part of the community and that despite his perception of himself as an outsider, he is deeply loved by all of those around him. Codi is able to see the truth of her father's situation but cannot yet apply it to herself. Most directly, Codi's sense of not belonging came from her father, both through the misinformation he fed her about her heritage and through the attitude of separation that he instilled in her. The only way to change the present and the future in Animal Dreams, is to reach back to the past; Codi must first convince her father of belonging to Grace, before she can herself be convinced. Loyd repeats almost the same arguments to Codi that she has presented to her father. He is bolstered by the letter from the school demonstrating their desire for Codi to remain a part of the community's future as well as of its past and present. Faced with this information, Codi is forced to realize that the only thing keeping her outside of the community is herself and her own maintenance of secrets. Of all that was kept hidden at the beginning of the novel, the only secret yet to be divulged is Loyd's role in her pregnancy. Codi, however, is not yet ready to allow herself to become a full member of Grace's community.