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By: Kindra, Liz, Allison, Rachel P, Rachel A, and Kiri

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1 By: Kindra, Liz, Allison, Rachel P, Rachel A, and Kiri
The Poisonwood Bible By: Kindra, Liz, Allison, Rachel P, Rachel A, and Kiri

2 Setting Events take place in Georgia, in the Congo and in South Africa, depending on which narrative voice is engaged. Most of the novel takes place in Africa from 1959 to the late 1980s. Begins just prior to the Congo’s historic declaration of independence and the election of the first native prime minister.

3 BIG Characters Nathan Price – Cruel Orleanna Price – People Pleaser
Rachel Price – Egotistical Leah Price – Devoted and Headstrong Adah Price – Pensive and Cynical Ruth May Price - Daring and Refreshing Brother Fowles – Wholesome Mama Mwanza – Kindness Anatole – Genuine

4 Images and Symbols The variety of ways the Price women channel their guilt over Ruth May’s death, whether it be the “doer” like Leah or the “forgetter” like Rachel, mirrors the multifarious responses from U.S. citizens about their country’s part in exploiting and destroying of the Congo.

5 Images and Symbols Ruth May – Patrice Lumumba: Ruth May has a vivacious, childish energy and an unfettered spirit that cannot be touched by her oppressive father, similarly Lumumba had a charisma and passion when he spoke that inspired others and relit the fires the western influences has extinguished. However, both die prematurely, before their potential is ever fully tapped into. Nathan’s sexism towards his family parallels the western racism toward the Congolese. Nathan’s refusal to acknowledge the intelligence of Leah and Adah; his statement, ““sending a girl to college is like pouring water in your shoes,” mirrors the Belgian rule that the Congolese must stop school after age 12, as Nelson must. Nathan’s failure to see his daughters independent worth, remarking “not marrying veers from God’s plan” reflects the western influences inability to see the Congolese as human being which breeds their cruel, inhumane treatment towards them.

6 Images and Symbols Methuselah symbolizes the crippling effects of oppression, even after he is granted freedom he is hesitant, confused, and ultimately ill-equipped to survive on his own. Adah finds Methuselah's feathers scattered around the yard, and realizes that he has been eaten by a predator on the day that independence is granted to the Congo, foreshadow the inability of the exploited Congo to stand on its own. Both tragedies show that there must be an interim period, a time of learning to bridge the gap from oppression to freedom.

7 Motifs Handicap: Adah is alienated in her own culture for her disability but not in the Congo, the Congo see their bodies as tools. Mama Mwanza shows an acceptance and movement past her disability, unlike Adah who is bitter and struggles to define herself when her disability is gone. Adah comments that the Congolese accepts Adah with her disability but alienates Rachel for her blonde hair, a contradiction to the attitude of American Society.

8 Motifs Animals: Tata Kuvundundu: “The animals will rise up”
Green Mamba Snake: Ruth May says she will become a green mama snake after she dies because she is scared of them. Okapi: The okapi is a rare beast that suggests a sort of hope in its transience. Ants: The ants demonstrate that even the little of organisms, when they rise up, are powerful; this provides a sort of encouragement that the belittled and oppressed are capable of the same. The Lion that “Eats” Adah: This is a David and Goliath tale of sorts - handicapped girl escaping a lion – and illuminates the “rooting for the underdog” theme that is prevalent throughout the book.

9 Motifs Gardens: Nathan’s failed garden, Orleanna’s love of gardening when she returns home from Africa, Leah and Anatole’s farm commune Gardens are seen as the fostering of new life, and symbolize the ability to grow and adapt. Nathan’s garden fails because of his stubborn attitude and inability to change. However, Orleanna and Leah and Anatole’s success with gardening speaks volumes of their character, that even after tragedy, they can adapt and nurture something different back into life.

10 Main Topics Ignorance Grace Guilt and its prolonged effects Religion
Nathan is determined to save souls because of the guilt he feels from losing his troop to the Bataan Death March in WW2. Religion Control by Intimidation

11 Conflicts Nathan Price vs. the land
o Nathan struggle to plant his seeds in the African soil using American techniques. o “He declared he would make them grow, in the name of God, or he would plant again.” (p. 63). Although Nathan took careful note of how he planted his seeds and took all the right steps, he was ignorant to the fact that those types of vegetables would not grow in the Congo. This also leads into the conflict of Nathan and the Congolese people, just as he was negligent when caring for the plants, Nathan failed to accept (and learn) their culture.

12 Conflicts Adah vs. herself
o Adah is born with a condition that prohibits her from using the left side of her body and, not wanting to get in anybody else’s way, she places herself in voluntary exile from the world, looking on it as only an observer, rather than an active participant. United States vs. the Congo o Nathan’s willful ignorance and mistreatment of the native Congolese correlates to the American policy/judgment towards the Congo. o Countries of power such as the United States and Belgium feel it is there duty to control places like the Republic of Congo just as Nathan feels it is his responsibility to “save” them.

13 Main Themes Arrogance of Western Society: Nathan Price in a political allegory throughout the story of the cultural arrogance and sense of superiority the West (aka the United States) feels over the weaker countries, such as the Congo. Nathan believes his solutions and religion will help to better the Congolese people and he continues to try and convert them to Christianity and the ways of a civilized Western culture. The US also believed their thoughts and ideas to be superior and thought they had the right to take out the Congo’s new leader in order to place what that they deemed fit. Nathan’s and the United States’ attempts turned sour and didn’t help or advance the Congo, it hurt the people and the economy. This shows their arrogance and how they only view things their way, and don’t take into consideration what is actually best for this poor country.

14 Main Themes How to deal with the burden of guilt: The author uses the viewpoints of five different women to show a variety of ways that people deal with guilt. There is no right answer and Kingsolver believes there are money different ways from one extreme being that one blames herself for everything and goes into a deep depression to the other extreme of acting as though there is nothing to be guilty about and that nothing wrong has occurred. In between these extremes some turn to religion, activism, or science to deal with what they believe to have done wrong. The guilt these women feel or deny is not only possibly being the cause of their sisters death, but they represent what Americans must feel about potentially being part of what the United States did to the Congo.

15 Author’s Position The author seems to take a stance that the US is to blame for what happened in the Congo, and that their great ideas to “help” the Congo actually made things worse. They didn’t understand what was best for them and caused great damage, leaving people feeling responsible and confused on how to live with what they had let happen.

16 Powaa Scenes Genesis Opening scene (Orleanna Price's Narration)
Foreshadowing (6) “How do we aim to live with it?” (9) Mama Tataba gives Nathan gardening lessons Nathan's arrogance (40-41) Revelation

17 Powaa Scenes Breaking of the bone-china platter Methuselah is killed
Orleanna's only “pretty thing in the big old mess they had to live in.”(128 & 134) Methuselah is killed Foreshadowing/Microcosm Judges The Nsongonya Rising of the oppressed (Microcosm) (299)

18 Important Quotes “How do we aim to live with it?”
"When I finally got up with sharp grains imbedded in my knees, I found, to my surprise, that I no longer believed in God." Adah,171. "We are going to make the Congo, for all of Africa, the heart of light." Patrice Lumumba,184. "In Congo, it seems the land owns the people." Leah, 283. "Not my clothes, there wasn’t time, and not the Bible-it didn’t seem worth saving at that moment, so help me God. It had to be my mirror." Rachel, 301. “I felt the breath of God go cold on my skin.” Leah, book 3

19 Important Quotes “I am the unmissionary, as Adah would say, beginning every day on my knees asking to be converted.” Leah, book 6 “But my father needs permission only from the Saviour, who obviously is all in favor of subduing the untamed wilderness for a garden.” Leah, 36 “That one, brother, he bite.” Mama Tataba, 39 “Around here the people seem content to settle for whatever scars life whangs them with as a decoration.” Rachel, 127 “Live was I ere I saw evil.” Adah, 306 "The death of something living is the price of our own survival, and we pay it again and again.” Adah, 347

20 Examples of Satire Words have numerous meanings that differ due to the slightest change in intonation or sound. Nathan Price could just not grasp the language. Nathan continues to preach that "Tata Jesus is bangala," which as Adah puts it, “will make you itch like nobody’s business” (277), however what he means to say is that Jesus is beloved and precious. The word “Bangala” means “dearly beloved” if spoken slowly, but also is a reference to the Poisonwood Tree. The village doesn’t understand why they would want to worship a god that hurts them, therefore frustrating Nathan.

21 Important Quotes The humor however has a deeper meaning to the book as a whole. Just as poisonwood causes physical pain, the American religion has a negative effect on the Congolese in that they reject Christianity when the congregation has a vote to decide if they favor or oppose Jesus. It does them absolutely no good for Nathan to force his religion upon them. This passage allows Kingsolver to assert that what is good in one culture may not be good in another. As Nathan misuses the word bangala, Kingsolver underscores his ignorance to learn the language and culture of the Congolese.

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