Just like the first book in the Bible, the first book of The Poisonwood Bible is named Genesis. As well as the beginning, Genesis can also mean rebirth. When characters arrive in the Congo they realize the things they brought with them are changed by Africa and can no longer be as they once were. In this way, Genesis symbolizes the process of becoming their new selves. For instance, the first chapter in The Poisonwood Bible, narrated by Orleanna, strongly shows the guilt that the Congo had left her to live with after the death of Ruth May. Likewise, Eve, the first woman in Genesis, forced all of mankind to shoulder the guilt of eating the forbidden fruit. “I trod on Africa without a thought, straight from our family’s divinely inspired beginning to our terrible end,” (9). “There’s only one question worth asking now: How do we aim to live with it?” (9).
Revelation in The Poisonwood Bible is shortly followed by another title labeled “the things we learned.” Thus, Revelation signifies a sense of understanding. The Price girls begin by learning things about the Congo’s plants, animals, and language. In addition, the Prices learn a lot about themselves in relation to the Congolese. An example is when Leah befriends a Congolese boy named Pascal. The more she plays with him and learns about the people of Kilanga, the more she realizes she can never fully assimilate into that culture because of her whiteness. Another definition for Revelation is the apocalypse. In the biblical sense, the apocalypse brings chaos and death before the world can become a better place. In The Poisonwood Bible, Patrice Lumumba just became prime minister, initiating the Congo’s independence from Belgium. Likewise the bird Methuselah dies after he is finally freed, foreshadowing the fate of the Congo and its fragile Independence. Just like in the biblical revelation, there will be death and violence before those who are good...