The Poisonwood Bible Analysis

Historical Context

The Colonization of the Congo

In the late 1870s, Leopold II, king of Belgium, gained control of the territories that made...

(The entire section is 426 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Literary Style

Narrative with Multiple Voices

Multiple voices narrate this book with the point of view shifting back and forth among...

(The entire section is 401 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Literary Techniques

The riskiest, but ultimately most successful, literary technique that Kingsolver uses in The Poisonwood Bible is the multiple...

(The entire section is 293 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Ideas for Group Discussions

In The Poisonwood Bible Kingsolver focuses on a missionary family's experiences in the Belgian Congo (now known as Zaire), just as...

(The entire section is 287 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Social Concerns

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver's most ambitious novel to date, tells the story of a missionary family's experiences in the...

(The entire section is 1127 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Topics for Further Study

  • Some critics have complained that the novel Some critics have complained that the novel does not give Nathan a voice. Write one of the...

(The entire section is 110 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Literary Precedents

White men traveling to the jungle and discovering the dark side of human nature has been a common literary theme, from Joseph Conrad's...

(The entire section is 120 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Related Titles

Though bearing some similarities to her previous work, particularly in its juxtaposition of the personal and political, The Poisonwood...

(The entire section is 111 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Adaptations

Available in an unabridged audiotape version from Brilliance Corporation, read by Dean Robertson.

(The entire section is 13 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Media Adaptations

  • Brilliance Audio produced an unabridged audio version of the novel, read by Dean Robertson, in 2004. As of 2006, no film version had been...

(The entire section is 23 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible What Do I Read Next?

  • In her first novel The Bean Trees (1988), Barbara Kingsolver writes of the beginning of the relationship between Taylor Greer and...

(The entire section is 112 words.)

The Poisonwood Bible Bibliography and Further Reading


Fox, Stephen D., "Barbara Kingsolver and Keri Hulme: Disability, Family, and...

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The Poisonwood Bible Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Sources for Further Study

Jacobson, Kristin J. “The Neodomestic American Novel: The Politics of Home in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 24, no. 1 (Spring, 2005): 105-127. Compares and contrasts The Poisonwood Bible with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, with particular attention to the genre of the (neo)domestic novel.

Kakutani, Michiko. “No Ice Cream Cones in a Heart of Darkness.” The New York Times, October 16, 1998. Review of the book that takes up the symbolic significance of several main characters in line with political allegory.

Kerr, Sarah. “The Novel as Indictment.” The New York Times, October 11, 1998, p. SM53. An examination of The Poisonwood Bible and Kingsolver’s ideas about writing and influencing the world.

Ognibene, Elaine R. “The Missionary Position: Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.” College Literature 20, no. 3 (Summer, 2003): 19-36. This lengthy analysis concludes that “words, Kingsolver warns, have multiple meanings, especially in the Congo. To decode those meanings, readers must ’look at what happens from every side. . . .’ Kingsolver dares us to do so and to discover the moments of truth in the telling.”

Riswold, Caryn D. “Four Fictions and Their Theological Truths.” An assistant professor of religion surveys four novels, including The Poisonwood Bible, concluding that “Kingsolver describes justification by grace and the difficulty of living liberated from guilt.”