Poisonwood Bible Essay
August 19, 2013
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible. New York: HarperFlamingo, 1998. Print. Morally ambiguous characters -- characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good -- are at the heart of many works of literature. Choose a novel (Poisonwood Bible in this case) in which a morally ambiguous character plays a pivotal role. Then write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary. 1 ½-2 pages is the suggested length.
In Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, the cast of characters is a complex one. Therefore, little is black and white when it comes to said characters’ personas; much can only be classified as in a gray area. While not an uncommon trait in the novel, the character written to be the most morally ambiguous would be mother of four and wife, Orleanna Price.
Thrown into the Belgian Congo in 1959 by her Baptist minister husband, Orleanna scrambles to adjust to life without “modern day amenities”. She has to learn, and fast, how to raise her four daughters, ages ranging from fifteen to five, in a strange, alien environment. Completely unprepared, she struggles to learn the ways of life in the small village of Kilanga and ensure her family’s survival. Accustomed to Betty Crocker cake mixes and indoor plumbing, Orleanna has to cope with the stress of such a drastic change while attempting to help her children transition to the new way of life. She does what she can to take care of her family. She slowly learns the ways of the local village women and how to survive anything from monsoons and droughts to armies of ants. Dealing with the dangers of daily life in the Congolese jungle, however, are nothing compared to the dangers presented by her husband, Nathan. His intense devotion to God and to...
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