Paternalism in Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and Bean Trees Essay

Paternalism in Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and Bean Trees Essay

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Paternalism in Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and Bean Trees

 
     The etymological relationship between "father" and "homeland" goes back to the Latin words for both: pater (father) and patria (country). Fatherland, Vaterland, patrie... all these words meaning "home country" bring to mind fatherly images. Likewise, the words "patriot" and "patriotic" echo "patriarch", or the grandfatherly head of a family or clan. The drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are lovingly known as the "founding fathers"; first president George Washington is called the "father of our country". Even in the egalitarian twenty-first century, our country is represented in political cartoons by white-bearded Uncle Sam. These linguistic similarities are reflected in Barbara Kingsolver's novels. In Barbara Kingsolver's novels, the paternalism exhibited by fathers towards their daughters is paralleled by the paternalism the United States government shows when dealing with indigenous cultures. In Kingsolver's eyes, arrogance, neglect, and abuse characterize both types of paternalism.

 

According to Kingsolver, one of the main components of both types of paternalistic relationships is arrogance. Reverend Nathan Price of The Poisonwood Bible is a prime example of the arrogant father. He, a servant of God, seems to think that he is God. This complex is maginified by the fact that the Reverend has a low opinion of the female sex in general, and he makes no exemption for his daughters. Although his twin daughters Leah and Adah were identified as intellectually gifted at an early age, he refuses to send them to college. He compares higher education for women to pouring water into leather shoes--either ...


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...rent in every way from the parents I created for the narrators of this tale." ( PB, x) and claims on her web site that she doesn't use real people as the models for her characters. Also, her biography shows no record of her being discriminated against by American culture and she isn't part of a minority group. It would be interesting to see where her fascination with the various aspects of negative paternalism was born.

 

*Pigs In Heaven is the sequel to The Bean Trees. Taylor Greer and Turtle are main characters in both novels.

 

Works Cited

Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal Dreams. New York: Harper, 1990.

- - -. The Bean Trees. New York: Harper, 1988.

- - -. Pigs In Heaven. New York: Harper, 1993.

- - - . The Poisonwood Bible. New York: Harper, 1998.

Barbara Kingsolver Home Page. 10 January 2001. http://www.kingsolver.com/

 

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