The Poisonwood Bible Questions and Answers
by Barbara Kingsolver

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In The Poisonwood Bible, the characters represent different philosophical and political approaches.  What are they?

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In The Poisonwood Bible, Rachel represents imperialism and ethnocentrism. She never assimilates or learns to love Africa in a way that feels comfortable for her. She only takes. Ruth May represents more carefree ideologies, even anarchy at times, and she is crushed both in life and in spirit by the forces around her. She is the collateral damage. Leah is the most progressive of the characters, showing growth and understanding that allow her to assimilate. Ada goes to Africa disabled, so in a way, she understands what it means to have something taken from you. She understands how the Congolese feel having so little and being offered a ridiculous pittance—Christianity—in return for their suffering. Ada is a populist. She believes that the common people deserve control, and she is eventually healed, as the Congo may be healed one day if the Congolese people are allowed to rule their own lives.

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Kingsolver's novel is not only a story of a family and their journey over several decades, it...

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