The Poisonwood Bible

by Barbara Kingsolver

Start Free Trial

What balance of historical, political, or social elements emerges in The Poisonwood Bible?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The novel chronicles the Belgian colonization of the Congo as well as U.S. efforts to control the country after it gains independence. The Price family unwittingly becomes involved in this process after they relocate to Kilanga. The doctor who sets Ruth May's broken arm tries to point this out to Nathan when he tells him, "We Belgians made slaves of [the black Africans] and cut off their hands in the rubber plantations. Now you Americans have them for a slave wage in the mines and let them cut off their own hands." He insists that Nathan and his family "are stuck with the job of trying to make amends."  Call it balance, or call it cyclical, there is a sense in this novel that the characters must make choices based on trying to equalize situations or trying to maintain fairness.  This theme relates to Price family's sense of guilt. Orleanna articulates this emotion when she notes, "I was just one more of those women who clamp their mouths shut and wave the flag as their nation rolls off to conquer another in war." Leah tries to alleviate some of the damage by devoting herself to improving the lives of black Africans

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial