In The Poisonwood Bible (1998), author Barbara Kingsolver uses an array of stylistic features to influence the meanings that the readers make of the text. Perhaps the most prominent aspects of style employed are the manipulations in narrative voice. The novel has five narrators, the mother and four daughters of the Price family. Kingsolver has created a unique voice and personality for each of the Price girls by using specific diction, syntax, and sentence structure depending on which narrative voice is engaged. Using these stylistic features to construct five very different points of view, the reader is able to form a just opinion of the events in the novel, and thus Kingsolver ultimately persuades the reader into making the desired meaning/s of the text.
Ruth May, 5, is the youngest narrator and Price daughter. Her point of view is constructed to have wrong pronunciations of words and grammar. Imagining her as a real life character, Kingsolver has manipulated sentence structure, diction and syntax to make her accent sound more childish, and therefore more realistic. For example, when Ruth May describes the toys she was allowed to bring with her to the Congo, she says, "I only got to bring me two toys: pipe cleaners, and a monkey-sock monkey. The monkey-sock monkey has done gone already." The slight mistakes in her sentences and word choice are ones that a young child would likely make, but are still clear enough to understand. Ruth May also makes up her own language to communicate with the children of the Congo, which conveys to the readers that she is innocent, playful and cheery; a reflection of her age. When her point of view is stylistically constructed in this way, it reminds the reader of Ruth Mays innocence and wonder, she’s not bias, she’s honest; she sees things for the way they are. The readers begin to believe the same.
Similarly, Kingsolver has used sophisticated wording and arrangement to develop the voice of Adah, 14. Her style...
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