The Poisonwood Bible Questions and Answers
by Barbara Kingsolver

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The Poisonwood Bible abounds in irony. What is the irony in Kinsolver's novel and how does it both reveal the theme and act as a purpose?

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Irony is a literary device that can be verbal or situational. Verbal irony occurs when words contradict meaning. Situational irony occurs when a situation ends up differently than anticipated.

Irony is common in Barbara Kingsolver's novel The Poisonwood Bible. One example of situational irony in this novel is the entire Price family's journey to the Congo. Nathan Price believes that he will be able to save the souls of those who live there. This does not happen and unfortunately, this trip tears his family apart and even kills one of his daughters. Rather than helping any of the villagers, Nathan clings to his mission and only brings destruction to his family. It is ironic that a person trying to save other people ends up losing those he loves.

Another example of situational irony in this novel happens when Nathan tries to encourage baptism among the people of the Congo. Baptism is supposed to be a time of happiness and joy. This does not occur and the villagers become frightened of baptism...

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