The Poisonwood Bible

Topics: The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver, Oprah's Book Club Pages: 7 (2177 words) Published: December 14, 2012
People always greatly and negatively impact each other, though they believe it to be for the greater good. In the 1950’s European and American imperialism tore asunder what tranquility there was in the Congo. These countries may have not been aware of their influence at the time, but the outcome nonetheless was drastic. Cultural misunderstandings were the ultimate catalyst for the Congo’s destruction. In Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible published in 1998 she exposes how cultural ignorance creates problems. With her chosen syntax, point of view, and time gap of each narrator Kingsolver exposes how close mindedness creates unfulfilled results because individuals can not adapt to cultural changes. Style

Barbara Kingsolver narrates the novel with five different women two of whom, Rachel and Adah, expose two polar views on culture. The syntax of each character creates distinguishing tones. Barbara Kingsolver’s differencing use of syntax laces tones into readers minds; consequently, the readers belief pertaining to certain cultures develops according to the narrator’s representation of grammar and language usage.

Rachel’s sentence structure and word choice is simple. Neither her speech nor thoughts are complicated. Her language may be simple, but these simple thoughts are very strong. Her tone is distinguishing. It portrays her character as “materialistic, racist, selfish, vain, and shallow” (Strehle). For example her attitude towards different cultures can easily be portrayed in statements such as “This [Africa] is not a christian type of place...stick out your elbows, and hold yourself up.” (Kingsolver 517). And since the natives “don’t have the same ethics as us” she doesn’t care about their outcomes (Kingsolver 426). Rachel’s diction and tone associated with it makes it hard for the reader to credit any pathos towards her cause.

While Rachel is simple and easy to follow Adah is not. She not only does odd things but also writes them oddly, “When I finish reading a book from front to back, I read it back to front. It is a different book, back to front, and you can learn new things from it.” but she doesn’t seem crazy, rather interesting (Kingsolver 57). Her bizarre fashion of stating things makes readers notice the complexity of her thoughts. Unlike Rachel her sentence structure and even types of language vary. As the reader progresses through Adah’s sections they must read deeper and stop at her backwards speech to fully understand what she’s saying. Since the readers must proceed with caution to grasp meanings, Kingsolver entrusted the Congo’s language upon her. Placing Congolese in any other section would not have the same effect because the tone Adah portrays in each section consistently makes her appear credible.

Adah periodically cites literature, expanding complexity. She does not merely cite literature but contemplates purposes and applies meanings to current situations. Sometimes her language is difficult but worth it; Adah’s deep thoughts gives her character pathos. Readers are more likely to agree with her thoughts because she analyzes things from different angles, and consequently accepts new cultural ideas. Her thoughts and language expose a credible individual who embraces different ways of analyzing things.

Various techniques are put into play to highlight the importance of accepting cultures. One of the most notable techniques is the indirect characterization of Nathaniel Price. All the key characters narrate except one, Nathaniel. His missing narration makes readers base opinions upon his words and actions. At one point or another each narrator turns against him because of his self righteous ignorance. From the beginning three of the five narrators have some sort of resentment towards him. Innocent Ruth May and dynamic Leah are the last narrators to turn.

Leah Price’s gradual turn is one of the strongest noticeable turns. Since she is the only...
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