The Poisonwood Bible Critical Reading Portfolio Entry
Section I: Significance of Title
The Poisonwood Bible is a book about the reactions that can be made with the burden of collective guilt; to be specific, to our complicit guilt as citizens of the United States for the misconduct by our nation in the Congo. The Poisonwood Bible is an allusion of an event that triggers the life of a family to be burden with guilt in the Congo. The title of the book is what describes the whole book. The Poisonwood Bible is an increased prosecution of Western colonialism and post-colonimalism, an expose of cultural arrogance and self-indulgence. Section II: Author
The author of the Poisonwood Bible is Barbara Kingsolver. The Poisonwood Bible is a departure from Kingsolver’s previous fictional novels, not only in moving politics and to the foreground, but also in its setting. Kingsolver’s actually spent two years in the Republic of Congo while her parents served as health care officials. Her life in the Congo represents a theme that finds a prominent place in the Poisonwood Bible. Kingsolver actually spent her two years in the Congo at the same time as the characters in the book, around the 1960’s. While Kingsolver spent time in the Congo the United States had secretly sabotaged the Congo’s shot at independences by putting together a coup that resulted in the death of the elected President Patrice Lumumba. Infuriated by what she considered an overwhelming act; motivated by greed, Kingsolver then formed the ideas to write a novel exposing and dealing with this crime. It wasn’t until thirty years later that she finally felt ready, emotionally and professionally, to take on the project of discovering the question of how we can call ourselves United States Citizens, and still deal with our involvement in these horrifying events. Kingsolver worked long and hard to make the book reveal the truth about what happened because she was dedicated to what she felt was right. Section III: Setting
The book took place primarily in the Belgian Congo, which later became Zaire during the story. Certain segments took place in Atlanta and Sanderling Island, Georgia, and certain others in the Johannesburg, South Africa and the French Congo. The time period in which the story is laid out is between 1959-1998. The work was written between 1993-1998, though some of the ideas that formed the book came from the time Kingsolver spent in the Congo. The setting actually coincides with the Authors time in the Congo which makes it so significant, Kingsolver experience the life of living in a foreign just like the characters in the book. Though how their time was spent was completely different. The setting is connected to the thematic concerns because the setting is how the theme was brought about. The characters experienced “The impossibility of absolute and unambiguous justice on a global scale and a transfer of faith from God to the natural world” which displays the themes of the book. Though without the places in which the book was laid out, these themes couldn’t have taken place. The setting and theme definitely play big rolls in the book that intertwine. Section IV: Plot
The major conflicts in the story can be told on two different levels. Both levels regard how one should react in the burden of guilt, but on a more personal level the guilt that must be dealt through all the events that lead to Ruth Mays death. On the broader level, the women also felt the strong need to handle with the collective western guilt that originates from the crimes of the colonial and post- colonial era. After arriving in the Congo, decisions to remain in the Congo in the face of the mortal threat that Independence brings. The longer they stayed the more challenges that would arise. All this brought out a growing bitterness toward the Prices by the villages leaders, which erupted in the sentiments over the issues of Leah’s participation in the hunt. This in return resulted in the...
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