In The Poisonwood Bible how does Kingsolver differentiate among the Price sisters, particularly in terms of their voices?
Writing a novel from the viewpoint of multiple characters is a challenging undertaking, but Barbara Kingsolver transitions seamlessly between the five women of the Price family. Each of the four Price daughters, together with their mother's occasional insights, recounts their family's missionary experience in the Congo in very unique ways.
The youngest Price daughter, Ruth May, is only five when we first encounter her. She speaks with the innocence—and most importantly, poignant honesty—that only a small child can deliver. Her interpretations of the events that unravel around her in the Congo reveal a lot about her family members and are full of authenticity, humor, and charm.
Leah is fourteen at the outset of the story. Her voice is full of hope and a desire to gain her oppressive father's approval. She is often confused about where she stands in her father's eyes, and she spends much of her narration excusing his behavior and attempting to make sense of his irrational decisions. She...
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In The Poisonwood Bible, author Barbara Kingsolver uses the voices of the four Price sisters (as well as their mother) to tell the story. Each chapter is told from a specific character's point of view. Each Price sister is a distinct individual, with her own personality, motives, beliefs, and way of speaking, and these individual traits are evident in their voices.
Rachel, the oldest sister, is whiney, self-important, a bit dim-witted, narrow-minded, and snobby. She often misuses words in her chapters and clearly looks down on Africa and the native people in the village. She frequently points out negative aspects of Africa without making any effort to understand the trials that the Africans face. For example, she frequently derides the children in the village for not wearing "proper" clothing, without thinking about how their culture is different from her own. She misuses words like "precipitation" for "participation" and shows no interest in politics or economic issues that affect the village.
Adah, the oldest of the twins, is interested in palindromes (words or phrases that read the same backward and forward). Many of her chapters include palindromes. She also describes herself as crippled, because she has bad leg and walks with a limp. She does not speak much, but her voice is dark, sarcastic, and often contains codes or palindromes.
Leah, the younger of the twins, is eager, curious, and intense. She wants to learn about Africa and its people, and is open to accepting the culture as different from her own. She is more accepting of her father than her sisters, and wants to be part of the village around her.
Ruth May is the youngest Price sister. In her chapters, she speaks in a child-like voice and often mixes up words, phrases, and stories.
Readers can easily differentiate between the four Price sisters by looking for differences in tone, word choice, and the individual character traits and quirks of each sister.