The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

I know many of us were forced to read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad in high school or college; I know it takes place in the Congo; I know that it was narrarated by a male character; and if I’m to be completely honest that’s all I remember about it.  This book (The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver) also takes place in the Congo but is written from the viewpoint of the five females of The Price family. The Prices are missionaries from The United States that were forced to go to Africa by the father Nathan, a religious fanatic.

The strength and vulnerability of this book comes from the author’s style of writing in which not a single man’s point of view is heard from. The reader learns about the male characters through the opinions and thoughts of the females.

  1. Orleanna Price: mother
  2. Rachel: oldest daughter
  3. Leah: twin #1
  4. Adah: twin #2 with a disability
  5. Ruth May: youngest daughter

Nathan Price is a man of unshakeable faith, much to the detriment of his family.  As the book unfolds the kind of man he is will be revealed.

I reserve judgement on any of the characters because each one deals with their struggles in very different ways. However, I definitely have a favorite. I won’t tell you who it is so that you can make your own decisions.

No wonder they hardly seemed to love me half the time — I couldn’t step in front of my husband to shelter them from his scorching light. They were expected to look straight at him and go blind. – Orleanna

Tall and straight I may appear, but I will always be Ada inside. A crooked little person trying to tell the truth. The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes. – Adah

Our extended separation has so far improved my devotion to Anatole, my French grammar, and my ability to live with uncertainty. – Leah

The insight that these women have are all products of their individual relationships with each other, the father, and their surroundings. Each person has a unique impression of how the world should revolve and everyone has a point of view that a reader will be able to say: “ah yes, that calls to me.”

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