The Poisonwood Bible Questions and Answers
by Barbara Kingsolver

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What is the main theme of Barbara Kingsolver's novel The Poisonwood Bible?  

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Although it is difficult and reductive to discuss any significant work of literature in terms of a single theme (on this point see, for instance, Richard Levin’s classic indictment of thematic criticism, titled New Readings vs. Old Plays), certainly a few major themes do suggest themselves to anyone reading Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible .  Partly this is because Kingsolver is clearly intent on making various thematic points, sometimes stating them quite openly (as in the second quotation below).  One of those points, for instance, involves attempts to impose domination and the kinds of resistance such attempts often provoke.  Perhaps the main example of a person in this novel who tries to impose domination is the father, Nathan Price, who not only attempts to dominate (and thereby eventually alienates) his wife and daughters but who also tries to dominate nature and native Africans during his time as a Christian missionary in the Congo. He is in many ways a...

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