The Symbolic Significance of Methuselah as It Reflects the Price Family in Specific and the Congo in General in the Book "The Poisonwood Bible"

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Methuselah is a parrot character in The Poisonwood Bible written by Barbara Kingsolver. The novel is set in the late 20th century in a village of The Congo call Kilanga. Methuselah is a parrot who is left by brother Fowls for the Price family. He has been denied freedom for very long and has been kept in a cage. Later when Nathan Price sets him free, he has no idea what to do with his independence. So he keeps flying near the Price house and depends on the Price girls for food. When Congo’s independence is announced, Methuselah gets killed and eaten by a cat. The imprisonment and freedom of Methuselah can symbolize the current and the future conditions of the Price family as well as the colonization and independence of The Congo. Methuselah’s imprisonment reflects the fact that the Price girls and Orleanna are kept in The Congo against their will by Nathan Price so that he can spread the word of Bible which according to Rachel, is not “worth saving” (301). Methuselah is kept in a cage in the Price house. The parrot lives there as a pet who is kept captive and forced to live in the cage. It has spent most of its life “caged away from flight and truth” (211). Orleanna and the Price girls have a similar story because Nathan is “all psyched up to stay [in Congo] forever …” (201) and he has forced his family to stay with him against their consent. Nathan is the one who actually has got the power to decide the fate of the Price girls and Methuselah. Nathan “let the parrot go” (87) because its language was not in accordance with the principles Nathan had set for the house. Even though the Price girls wanted to keep the parrot, it was Nathan who decided to award him freedom. The same thing happens with Nathan’s family who is totally under his control. Orleanna, who feels “occupied by a foreign power,” (226) claims that she has been “swallowed by Nathan’s mission …” (226). She is not happy living in The Congo with Nathan but she has to because Nathan controlled her and...
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