Poisonwood Bible Themes

Poisonwood Bible Themes

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Storyboard Text

  • Language and Communication
  • Religion
  • Women and Femininity
  • Nathan is an example of generational language gaps. Nathan has to have all of his sermons translated by Anatole and he refuses to pronounce a word correctly which leads him to basically say "Jesus is poison wood". Ruth May is an example of how younger generations are more able to close the language gap than older generations. This is demonstrated when Ruth may organizes her game of Mother May I
  • Contrasting Regions
  • Nathan is older and set in his ways and insists on teaching the people of the Congo. He also insist on baptism. He later learns that a girl drowned in the river and that is why they wont allow baptism.  Adah is the opposite. She is not religious she is more logical. These are example of how every person in the book views religion differently.
  • Guilt
  • Orleanna realizes that in the Congo women have more responsibility which is somewhat of a shock because she has been taught her whole life that women take care of the house and men do the work. The natives view Nathan as somewhat worthless because he does not contribute to his household, he expects the women to do it all. The natives are appalled by this because in their society everyone must contribute in order to survive. Although women contribute more their are still restrictions for example the witch doctor was appalled when Leah wanted to join the fire hunt
  • Cultural Arrogance
  • There are different rules to society in the Congo that the Price family is unaware of. They are not aware of where to bathe, where to go to the bathroom, or where to do their laundry. They don't know the rules of Hygiene in the Congo.
  • Everyone in the book deals with guilt in their own way. Some guilt comes from what they know if happening to Africa, but most is caused by Ruth May's death. Orleanna being older and a mother figure guilt trips Rachel. Rachel helps her mother through her death. 
  • Cultural arrogance is exemplified through Nathan's attitude toward Africa. He is older and thinks he knows best. He believes he is there to civilize and educate the native's. His arrogance is pointed out on several occasions but perhaps the most significant is when he wanted to teach the natives to grow food but his garden fails. In turn mama Tataba was the one who had to teach him how to make his garden work.
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