The Poisonwood Bible

by Barbara Kingsolver

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What does the disappearance of "Kilanga" represent in "The Poisonwood Bible"?

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The village disappearing from the land can be attributed to simple cultural and social changes that sculpt every landscape of an evolving country.  Villages come and go, just as cities-and even civilizations-throughout the course of history do.  As for the village disappearing from memory, that is because it was not the central focus; even though the village is the setting of the novel, it is not what the novel is about.  The things that last in our memories are the life-changing moments, the nuggets of happiness, despair, tragedy and change. The novel is about the struggle of this family to survive great trial and merciless tragedy that strikes them.  They just happen to be in Kilanga when the tragedy occurs.  If it had happened anywhere else, the impact would have been the same; the names and places are less important than the event that burned in their memories, changing all of them forever.  At the heart of this novel is how a stubborn and unbending man came to Africa and tried to make it his own, and to fit into his perceptions of how the world should be; this was not possible, and the blindness of that had devastating repercussions.  Kilanga is just a village that facilitated that storyline, but it is not the important part of the story.  The story is about how a series of events ending in tragedy changed all of their lives forever.

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