How does "The Poisonwood Bible" relate to a statement about the role or value of literature?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lets start with an overview of the novel itself.  The Poisonwood Bible is a story about postcolonial Africa.  This culture at this time was experiencing the trauma of having been colonized, influenced by other cultures, and then freed.  The freedom left difficulty, however, because the culture was now confused.  The traditional African lifestyle had been forever altered, and there was constant conflict as citizens tried to find a happy medium.

Enter the Price family.  They are the outsiders perspective and they provide readers with a personal view of the Belgian Congo as they fight for their independence.  They are able to show the arrogance and meddling nature of Western cultures.

This story is told as a multiple viewpoint narrative.  The narrative is the oldest form of literature - the mutliple viewpoints give the story more perspective.  The title and the section headings connect it to the most famous literature of all time - the Christian Bible.  Kingsolver is tapping into a combination between the old African tradition of storytelling and the more modern, Western, ideology of the Bible.  She is mixing the two to echo the conflict mentioned above.  She is showing the importance of stories by doing both, as well.  History books will not show us what Kingsolver and the narrative of the people do - they will not explain the effects these political events had on the average person.

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The Poisonwood Bible

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