The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverThe Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one familys tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
The Poisonwood Bible Analysis
Why I love: Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver in Dublin in Photograph: Matt Kavanagh. It tells the story of a missionary family who move from the USA to the Belgian Congo in the late s. I loved the words and how it was written, as the story is narrated in turns by the five women of the family, the long-suffering wife of the determined missionary and his four daughters. It is like watching slow alchemy to read these words and see how the views of the family members change, so-called savages turning into full human beings with a complex and sophisticated culture in front of our eyes and through their words. It makes everything more alive and complicated, just like life.
She spent years researching her eighth novel, studying dozens and dozens of books about African history and the Congolese language, reading and re-reading the King James Bible front-to-back and back-to-front, thumbing through pop-culture magazines of the s, and traveling to Central Africa. We'd like to welcome to Shmoop, Baaaarbaraaaa Kingsoooooolllllvveeer! Can you blame us? So, yeah. It's kind of a big deal.
In , evangelical Baptist preacher Nathan Price takes his family to the Belgian Congo as missionaries. Nathan travels to Africa intent upon saving souls, but his wife, Orleanna, and four daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May are more concerned with what supplies they should take to live comfortably there for the next year. When they arrive in the Congo, they are assigned to the village of Kilanga, where the Prices will be the only American family. Soon after their arrival, it becomes clear that they brought the wrong types of supplies and are woefully unprepared to deal with life in such a drastically different culture and climate. Nathan is inflexible in his approach to both the Congolese and his family, and Orleanna and her daughters are overwhelmed by their changed circumstances. In time, the Price girls begin to adjust to their new life in the Congo. Rachel hates everything about it and simply wants to be a normal American teenager.