This passage is a very good representation of the overall character of Nathan Price. His stubborn attitude and refusal to admit that he is wrong comes through very strongly in the passage. Especially towards the beginning of the book that really helps readers understand the character and carry that understanding throughout the rest of the book. The violent nature of the passage also reflects Nathan’s attitude and actions towards his family throughout the book. Also, the passage discusses Nathan’s gardening methods and how, though they have always worked well for him in America, they do not work properly in the African climate. This can be reflective of his religious message and how although it is accepted in America, it does not quite belong in Africa. Finally, the last words in the passage, ‘burial mounds’ are ironic in the way that they foreshadow the eventual and literal death of Ruth May and the metaphorical death of the family following that.
The mood in this passage creates sympathy for Orleanna and the abuse she suffers from her husband. Readers get a sense of the weak family dynamic the Prices have especially those between husband and wife and father and daughters. This passage is the first we see of the relationship between Orleanna and Nathan and her initial submissive attitude towards him. It is important to note their relationship at this point as well as throughout the book as it does change as time passes in Africa and especially after Ruth May’s death. The use of a bronze breastplate to describe Nathan’s faith is interesting as the breastplate, as a symbol of war can be representative of Nathan’s aggressive attitude towards his family and the people of Kilanga who oppose him. Additionally the comparison of Orleanna’s faith to a secondhand coat can be representative of the way she doesn’t quite fit with Nathan and his lifestyle. The two items used to represent each person’s faith also clearly show the drastic contrast in...
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