Barbara Kingsolver is the author of many well-written pieces of literature including The Poisonwood Bible. This novel explores the beauty and hardships that exist in the Belgian Congo in 1959. Told by the wife and four daughters of a fierce Baptist, Nathan Price, Kingsolver clearly captures the realities this family and mission went through during their move to the Congo. The four daughters were raised in Atlanta Georgia in the 1950’s therefore entering the Congo with preconceived racial beliefs, and a very different way of life than they would soon experience. Throughout The Poisonwood Bible Kingsolver explores the importance and impact of faith, and a religion based on your own private beliefs.
Orleanna Price, the wife and mother, of this struggling family is a very honest woman, lacking some of the stronger religious background of which her husband possesses.
Orleanna, struggles with the hardships of daily life; toting and disinfecting the family's water, scrambling to make ends meet and trying to protect her family from the myriad terrors of the bush. Orleanna uses irony to describe the early days of her marriage. As she describes them, the days when there was still room for laughter in her husband's evangelical calling, before her pregnancies embarrassed him, before he returned from World War II a different man, a man who planned ''to save more souls than had perished on the road from Bataan.'' Her husband, Nathan Price, had escaped those miseries simply by luck, and knowing it curled his heart ''like a piece of hard shoe leather.'' As her husband continually preaches the good Lord’s word, she is faced with what seems to her to be the more important burdens of life, survival and keeping her family safe and sane. She doesn’t appear to have nearly so strong of a religious background as her husband would have hoped for her, however, throughout the novel it is made quite clear that she is in fact a better person than her husband could have ever hoped to be. Her daughter, Leah, captures her mothers religion very well when she says, “my father wears his faith like the bronze breastplate of God's foot soldiers, while our mother's is more like a good cloth coat with a secondhand fit.'' This quote is very true, as her father is the evangelical missionary leader who parades his religion around, as he craves for the reputation of being a ...
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... God by a different name, many different names actually, but all of them combined created the same image of what Nathan Price believed in, God. These people helped to show the different forms of which our God takes on, many cultures may appear to be non-believers but in reality each society’s God aims for the same goals.
As this novel is told entry by entry, narrated by the women of the family a clear picture of life in the Congo is very accurately represented as well as the influences of faith on each character. Leah clearly points out, “We've all ended up giving up body and soul to Africa, one way or another." Each of us, she adds, "got our heart buried in six feet of African dirt; we are all co-conspirators here." This is true of each and every character throughout the novel, as their faith is altered and influenced by the events within their stay in the Belgian Congo. Kingsolver presents to her reader many separate versions of faith, from Nathan’s forever devoted, to Orleanna’s incredibly subtle but morally strong. While reading the passages narrated by the women of the family it is realized, that without your own personal beliefs a life filled with success is unfathomable.
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