Poison Wood Bible

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In Poisonwood Bible, the major conflict throughout the beginning and end of the novel was of Orleanna Price’s guilt over the death of Ruth May. At the end of the novel however, Orleanna’s guilt subsided as the matured yet dead Ruth May spoke to her mother, forgiving her for all that occurred in the Congo, even though they did not directly lead to her death. The amnesty that Ruth May gave to her mother allowed her to be a truly independent person. Although after Orleanna left her controlling husband years earlier, she was still a slave to her own consciousness, which is why Ruth May’s forgiveness set her free.

The okapi story told by Orleanna differs from the story told be Ruth May in that the okapi story told by Ruth May describes it as being scared away thus, allowing the rare animal to live another year. However, Orleanna’s version of the story symbolizes the okapi as the danger and threats that the Congo has to offer and that just as the okapi stared her in the face, the dangers of Congo stared her in the face. Orleanna’s story also shows (although less obvious) how straightforward her guilt is, as that is the one emotion that Orleanna seems to keep throughout most of the novel. Ruth May’s okapi story, however, symbolizes her mother as the okapi once she left Nathan because she was scared of the dangers he had to offer and thus went home (for the okapi home is the jungle, for Orleanna it was America).

Finally, the conflict originally established in the beginning displays Orleanna’s never ending guilt and the conflict continues with Orleanna’s asking for forgiveness. However, the conflict is at last resolved when Ruth May tells her mother that she is forgiven and calms her down. At this point, Ruth May is no longer the innocent child we knew her to be when she was alive, but a mature, discerning adult. Ruth May expresses her wisdom by relaxing her mother and easing her guilt, letting Orleanna know that death was not necessarily worse than living, but it was...
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