ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Poisonwood Bible by 'Barbara Kingsolver' - A Review

Updated on February 20, 2018

The poisonwood bible is a thick book which offers little story. Natahan price is an American priest which decides to go to Congo with family to preach the gospels of the bible and convert Congolese to Christians. In fact the writer, Barbra kingsolver spent her childhood in Congo when she was a child, but the book is not autobiographical. The family consists of Orleanna Price—the wife of Nathan—and their four children, who are all girls. The novel is narrated by the five women taking turns. The eldest girl Rachel who is fifteen and beautiful does not like to go along with her family because she does not want to lose her teenage years in a far-flung third world country infested with disease and poverty. Leah and Ada are indifferent towards this adventure; they are twins and 14 years old. Adah is mute and crippled. The youngest one Ruth May is excited for this journey; she is just five years old.

Nathan is a strict, stern, and steadfast person; he is the master of family indeed. He is a devout Christian and has dedicated his life in the service of the lord jesus Christ. He can go to any length to spread the name of Jesus and convince the people of other faiths to relinquish their faith and accept the auspices of the true lord jesus Christ. Nathan is confident that his culture and his faith is supreme and he is helping others by converting to Christianity and abdicate their culture and pagan worship. He expects his wife and children to live according to the ways described in the gospels; if someone wavers, she is scolded and punished.

Source

Upon reaching Kilinga (a village in congo) Nathan and his imported culture gets the first blow when he plnts a vegetable garden which initially looks lush and green but bears no fruit; there are no African pollinators for his American plants. The next blow comes when the care taker mama tatamba leaves the family and her job because she is enraged at Nathan’s insistence to do baptism of children by dunking them in the river; she is enraged because the river is infested with crocodiles and not long ago a child was killed by a crocodile. But Nathan refuses to stop baptism of children. A local teacher Anatole tells Nathan that the chief Tata Ndu is angry about this proselytizing business. Nathan becomes livid after hearing this and throws Anatole out of his house.

Congo finds itself under a political turmoil when the Belgians announce that they will leave Congo and grant independence to it. People warn Prices to leave Congo as there will be ethnic cleansing of the white people once Congo is free. But Nathan won’t budge!

Leah is falling in love with Anatole. On the other hand the chief Tata Ndu had a bad eye on the beautiful Rachel and sends a marriage proposal. Tata Ndu is misinformed deliberately that Rachel is already engaged to Eeben Axelroot.

Time passes with torpor when suddenly a very unfortunate even occurs: Little Ruth May is bitten to death by a Green Mamaba snake. This works as the eye opener of Orleanna and the three girls. They had come to change Congo but the wild Congo does not change, instead it stings the Price family ferociously. But Nathan Price still not wavers, he is bent on changing the wild Congo but does not hesitate an iota when the wild stings back.

The price women are not ready to suffer any more and decides to leave Congo. The family disperses as a result of the political and social imbroglio. They had come to change the Congo and in this process Congo besieges them with its own wilderness.

I am not going to unfold the whole plot here and become the plot spoiler.

The novel is an indictment of the western society’s arrogance and its blind belief that it can make the whole world leave their subhuman societies and accept the life style and religion of the west. It underestimates the pagan values and fails to see that paganism has its own complicated gods and values and it belies deep within the people; it is not simple to uproot it and supplant with the western religiousness. The price family had gone to do this difficult task of changing the Congo but in the end finds itself at the receiving end. The price family becomes a victim of its own over-confidence. It would be wrong to put a finger at the whole price family. Nathan Price is the personification of the western ideology and its intransigence. Nathan is like the political front of the west and his women are the common person of the west who are burdened with the guilt.

Although the story is about personification of the western ideology in Nathan, he never narrates the story. The story is narrated by orleanna and her four daughters. Obviously Ruth May narrates only till she dies. Rachel is the personification of the flamboyant USA. She never liked to be in congo and was reluctant to leave USA and the glitz of its cities.It is evident in one of her monologues "I always wanted to be the belle of the ball, but, jeepers, is this ever the wrong ball".

The poisonwood Bible was included in the Oprah’s book club. It was published in 1998 and became a bestseller. The book was a finalist in the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 1999. It is one of those few books which earn critical acclaim and also do well commercially.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      7 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Interesting article on religious fanaticism and ethnocentrism. Most if not all religions share common characteristics:

      We are an eternal soul,

      The Golden Rule,

      There is some form of God beyond our understanding,

      Human should not harm Human.

      If the protagonist would teach these principles he would have been all right.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)