What is the significance of the opening scene in The Poisonwood Bible? What does it mean, and why does Kingsolver choose it to be the opening?

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In the opening scene to The Poisonwood Bible, Orleanna Price begins the narrative by speaking to her dead daughter.  However, in the first few pages, the narrative appears to be more the author-as-narrator addressing the reader directly.  The first line of the novel reads:  "Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened."  This direct address to the reading audience posits the reader within the setting of the Congo as the characters will experience it.  The land and its people are mysterious and strange to the Prices and a tragedy will befall them that is unimaginable to them when they begin their journey.  The narrative continues to tell the reader that he/she will have to make his/her own judgements on the actions and decisions of the woman (Orleanna) and her daughters suggesting that the novel will be told from either objective or various viewpoints (the latter is the case as the reader encounters shifting first-person narrators).  After Orleanna's voice becomes more apparent, she reveals that her daughter (unnamed) is dead and asks that her ghost quit haunting her.  The suspense of the unknown propels the reader into the novel.

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