The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

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Nathaniel Price Character Analysis

Nathaniel Price is the hypocritical, boorish patriarch of the Price family: a proud, arrogant man presiding over a family of women. As a Reverend, Nathaniel sets the plot of the novel in motion when he decides to move his family to the Congo, where he intends to preach the Bible in the tiny village of Kilanga. While Nathan seems to believe in the truth of Bible with great sincerity, his devotion to the specific rules of Christianity—especially the rules of Baptism—make him indifferent to the pains and feelings of the villagers he’s supposed to be helping (not to mention those of his own family). Nathan is also presented as a racist and sexist—someone who believes that whites are superior to blacks, and men are superior to women. He treats women and Africans as children to be condescended to, even when their intelligence and sophistication vastly exceeds his own. In all, Nathan is presented as the embodiment of narrow-minded Western imperialism. His children despise him, although by the end of the novel they come to respect him for his drive and determination, if not for his character and religious beliefs.

Nathaniel Price Quotes in The Poisonwood Bible

The The Poisonwood Bible quotes below are all either spoken by Nathaniel Price or refer to Nathaniel Price . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of The Poisonwood Bible published in 1999.
Book 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

“Nakedness,” Father repeated, “and darkness of the soul! For we shall destroy this place where the loud clamor of the sinners is waxen great before the face of the Lord.” No one sang or cheered anymore. Whether or not they understood the meaning of “loud clamor,” they didn’t dare be making one now. They did not even breathe, or so it seemed. Father can get a good deal across with just his tone of voice, believe you me. The woman with the child on her hip kept her back turned, tending to the food.

Related Characters: Nathaniel Price (speaker), Rachel Price (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Nathan and his family have arrived in the Congo. There, they’re welcomed into the Congolese village where they’ll remain for the next two years. Yet when Nathan is asked to say a few words to the villagers, his first instinct isn’t to extend his gratitude—instead, he uses his platform to rail against the Congolese way of life. Nathan attacks the villagers for their nakedness, implying that by refusing to wear clothes, the villagers are being sinful.

Nathan’s speech tells us a few things about the kind of man he is. First, it’s clear that Nathan is a strict, fundamentalist Christian: he has a rigid, unyielding understand of right and wrong—one that plenty of pious Christians would disagree with. Second, Nathan’s speech shows that he has no talent for leadership or politics—instead of trying to get the villagers on his side or show them any respect, he immediately treats them like naughty children. He’s so sure he’s right that he doesn’t care how many people he offends (and doesn't even care to learn the language of the people he's supposed to be "serving").

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Book 1, Chapter 6 Quotes

Several days later, once Father had regained his composure and both his eyes, he assured me that Mama Tataba hadn’t meant to ruin our demonstration garden. There was such a thing as native customs, he said. We would need the patience of Job. “She’s only trying to help, in her way,” he said.

Related Characters: Nathaniel Price (speaker), Leah Price (speaker), Mama Tataba
Related Symbols: The Hills of Soil
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

Early on in their time in the Congo, the Prices set to work planting seeds on their property. Nathan—a boorish, tyrannical man—refuses to take any advice from Mama Tataba, an experienced Congolese woman, even after Tataba points out that Nathan is planting seeds the wrong way. Tataba insists that Nathan should makes piles of soil to protect against rain—Nathan, who’s been planting seeds since he was a child, insists that Tataba is wrong. When Mama Tataba deliberately re-plants every single seed in the garden, Nathan condescendingly says that Mama Tataba is just “trying to help.” Nathan is a pompous, arrogant man, who thinks he’s far more talented and competent than he really is. He “forgives” those like Tataba who try to help him, not realizing how good their advice really is. In a broader sense, one could say that the passage is a metaphor for the way that the continent of Africa was managed for many years: ignorant colonial leaders from the U.S. and Europe governed the Congo and other countries, convinced that they knew what was best for Africa, but actually doing more harm than good.

Book 1, Chapter 10 Quotes

Once in a great while we just have to protect her. Even back when we were very young I remember running to throw my arms around Mother’s knees when he regaled her with words and worse, for curtains unclosed or slips showing—the sins of womanhood. We could see early on that all grown-ups aren’t equally immune to damage. My father wears his faith like the bronze breastplate of God’s foot soldiers, while our mother’s is more like a good cloth coat with a secondhand fit.

Related Characters: Nathaniel Price (speaker), Leah Price (speaker), Orleanna Price
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Leah Price paints a tragic picture of life in the Price household. Nathan is the only man at home, but he's also in charge—and he has a rigid, sexist view of domestic life. The result is that whenever his wife or daughters do anything wrong, he's quick to yell at them or even hit them for their "sins of womanhood." Leah, her mother, and her siblings must join together to protect themselves from Nathan—and yet at this point, Leah still admires and loves her father greatly.

The passage closes with an interesting analogy; Nathan's faith, it's implied, is proud and militaristic. From what we've seen, Leah is right on target: Nathan is aggressive in his faith, and seems to think of himself as being superior to the people around him. Orleanna, Nathan's wife, is a religious woman, but she doesn't rub her religion in other people's faces, and she seems to have some objections to Christianity (it fits her second-hand, suggesting that she's only remained a Christian because of her family and her husband).

Book 1, Chapter 11 Quotes

“That road,” said our mother, bemused, gesturing with a lazy bent wrist out the window. “Why, I can’t imagine.” She shook her head, possibly not believing. Can she allow herself not to believe him? I have never known. “It was at the end of a dry season, Orleanna,” he snapped. “When it’s hot enough the puddles dry up.” You brainless nitwit, he did not need to add.

Related Characters: Nathaniel Price (speaker), Orleanna Price (speaker), Adah Price (speaker)
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage offers a good example of the way that Nathaniel belittles his family and keeps his wife "in line." When Orleanna asks a natural question, Nathan shoots back with an angry, irritable reply, sending a clear message that Orleanna should keep quiet.

It's interesting to consider that while Kingsolver's novel is full of scenes like this one, in which Nathan uses words in an almost violent way, there's no actual domestic violence in the novel. Kingsolver suggests that Nathan does the greatest damage to his wife and children by making them doubt their own intelligence and competence—snapping at them again and again until they've been trained to be quiet and obedient.

Book 2, Chapter 16 Quotes

Anatole leaned forward and announced, “Our chief, Tata Ndu, is concerned about the moral decline of his village.” Father said, “Indeed he should be, because so few villagers are going to church.” “No, Reverend. Because so many villagers are going to church.”

Related Characters: Nathaniel Price (speaker), Rachel Price (speaker), Anatole Ngemba (speaker), Tata Ndu
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Nathan Price begins to quarrel with Tata Ndu, the leader of the Congolese village where Nathan has been sent to practice missionary work. Although Nathan sees himself as doing God's work, Ndu thinks of Nathan as a nuisance, making the villagers lazy and putting their lives in danger.

The passage reinforces a point that was already obvious: Nathan is oblivious to the fact that most of the villagers don't care about his religion in the slightest. From their perspective, Christ is just another god to worship, and is even inferior to the gods already celebrated in the village. Nathan, so blindly devoted to his work (to the point where he doesn't spend time with his family), is genuinely surprised that Christianity has become so unpopular in the village, to the point that it is even seen as a bad influence on the village's morals. The fact that he's so surprised suggests that he's been a bad missionary, refusing to pay any real attention to his audience's feelings.

Book 2, Chapter 20 Quotes

Father said, “An election. Frank, I’m embarrassed for you. You’re quaking in your boots over a fairy tale. Why, open your eyes, man. These people can’t even read a simple slogan: Vote for Me! Down with Shapoopie! An election! Who out here would even know it happened?”

Related Characters: Nathaniel Price (speaker), Rachel Price (speaker), Reverend Frank Underdown
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Nathan clashes with Frank Underdown, his sponsor and (often reluctant) supporter. Underdown tells Nathan and the rest of the Prices that there will be some sudden, potentially dangerous changes in the Congo: the Belgians are pulling out of the country altogether, and there may well be democratic elections in the Congo within a few months. Nathan—as condescending as ever—refuses to believe that there will ever be elections in the Congo. Based on what he's seen in his village, the Congolese are too foolish and disorganized to ever support a democratic movemen—they can't even communicate a simple political message to one another.

Nathan's position is almost nonsensical—he's ready to believe that the Belgians are pulling out of the country, but he sees no reason to believe that the Congolese have the wherewithal to replace their overlords with any other leadership. In short, Nathan seems to believe that the Belgians, with all their cruelty and hypocrisy, were the best thing for the Congolese, because they provided law and order that the Congolese could never provide for themselves.

Book 3, Chapter 28 Quotes

Then there is batiza, Our Father’s fixed passion. Batiza pronounced with the tongue curled just so means “baptism.” Otherwise, it means “to terrify.” Nelson spent part of an afternoon demonstrating to me that fine linguistic difference while we scraped chicken manure from the nest boxes. No one has yet explained it to the Reverend. He is not of a mind to receive certain news. Perhaps he should clean more chicken houses.

Related Characters: Adah Price (speaker), Nathaniel Price
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Adah points out a translation problem. The word "batiza" means "baptism"—therefore, it's very important to Nathan, who has come to the Congo to baptize as many African children as possible. And yet "batiza" can also mean "terrify" if pronounced slightly differently.

Notably, Adah has only learned the difference between the two "batiza"s by spending time with the native Congolese. Nathan, who for all his interest in baptizing the Congolese, doesn't seem to like them or respect them at all, has remained ignorant of the finer points of Congolese language—and his arrogant aloofness guarantees that he can't communicate with his congregation. The ambiguity in the word "batiza" also symbolizes the way that religion and ideology can be twisted from something pure into something corrupt and wicked.

Book 4, Chapter 49 Quotes

Oh, it’s a fine and useless enterprise, trying to fix destiny. That trail leads straight back to the time before we ever lived, and into that deep well it’s easy to cast curses like stones on our ancestors. But that’s nothing more than cursing ourselves and all that made us. Had I not married a preacher named Nathan Price, my particular children would never have seen the light of this world. I walked through the valley of my fate, is all, and learned to love what I could lose.

Related Characters: Orleanna Price (speaker), Nathaniel Price
Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Orleanna thinks about the tragedies that have hurt her family, and the nation of the Congo, in the last few decades, Although Orelanna recognizes that these tragedies have hurt many people, she concludes that there's no point trying to imagine a world in which they didn't occur: there's no point trying to "fix destiny."

It's interesting that Orleanna thinks of her life as a manifestation of destiny: she thinks of her decision to marry Nathan and move to the Congo, for example, as fate, pure and simple. In other words, Orleanna has a hard time thinking of herself as a free agent: as she sees it, "her" decisions aren't really her own (the universe decides everything on her behalf). Orleanna is so used to being docile and submissive that she can't even conceive of a world in which she's free to do as she pleases: if she's not a prisoner to Nathan, then she's a prisoner to fate.

Book 5, Chapter 62 Quotes

But his kind will always lose in the end. I know this, and now I know why. “Whether it’s wife or nation they occupy, their mistake is the same: they stand still, and their stake moves underneath them. The Pharaoh died, says Exodus, and the children of Israel sighed by reason of their bondage. Chains rattle, rivers roll, animals startle and bolt, forests inspire and expand, babies stretch open-mouthed from the womb, new seedlings arch their necks and creep forward into the light. Even a language won’t stand still. A territory is only possessed for a moment in time. They stake everything on that moment, posing for photographs while planting the flag, casting themselves in bronze. Washington crossing the Delaware. The capture of Okinawa. They’re desperate to hang on.

Related Characters: Orleanna Price (speaker), Nathaniel Price
Page Number: 384
Explanation and Analysis:

In this prologue, Orleanna thinks about the way that history plays out over time. As she sees it, history always has a happy ending. Even if evil people (people who, more likely than not, are hypocritical, authoritative men) cause great misery, their reign will always come to an end. The Pharaoh of ancient Egypt may have hurt a lot of Jews (according to the Bible), but ultimately this injustice led the Jews to escape and find their "promised land." Similarly, oppressive patriarchs like Nathan cannot always maintain their control—those they persecute will eventually rise up against them.

Orleanna's philosophy of history is fascinating because it reminds us how uncomfortable she is with the concept of individual agency. Orleanna is so used to being submissive and docile that she has a hard time conceiving of a world in which individual people accomplish anything lasting. Instead, she thinks of the world in broad terms like "fate" and "destiny." Regardless of what individual people do, she believes, things will "work out" in the end. In all, Orleanna's worldview is a strange combination of passivity and optimism.

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Nathaniel Price Character Timeline in The Poisonwood Bible

The timeline below shows where the character Nathaniel Price appears in The Poisonwood Bible. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 2
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...Betty Crocker cake mix with them, since there would be none in Africa. Leah’s father, Nathan Price, believed that bringing Betty Crocker was a waste of time since cake was a... (full context)
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...family of missionaries, the Underdowns, debriefs the Price family on their “mission” in the Congo. Nathan Price has come to Africa to practice his religion in Kilanga. Kilanga used to be... (full context)
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As Nathan speaks with Mr. Underdown, Mrs. Underdown playfully makes fun of Leah and her siblings for... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
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Nathan Price leads his family to his church. There, a group of locals—many of whom are... (full context)
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One of the locals welcomes Nathan to the village, and asks him to say a few words. Without hesitation, Nathan rises... (full context)
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Nathan cries out that he will cure the villagers of their “nakedness and darkness of the... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
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...process going on: birds cooing, fires burning, etc.—but it all amounts to “ashes to ashes.” Nathan’s church is at one end of the village, while the Price house is at the... (full context)
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Adah thinks about “Our Father,” Nathan. He has brought a hammer to the village, but this was a waste, since there... (full context)
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...legs are weak. Adah can’t speak well, so she almost never does. She imagines how Nathan reacted when she developed hemiplegia as a baby: he probably claimed that it was “God’s... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
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Nathan notices a big clump of grass growing in a garden outside the house. He rips... (full context)
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Nathan asks Leah why God gives mankind seeds instead of providing him with his nourishment in... (full context)
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Nathan proceeds to spend the afternoon farming his small square of soil, and Leah feels inspired... (full context)
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...Leah and her sisters fear Mama Tataba because of her blind eye. Mama Tataba tells Nathan that he’s farming the soil wrongly—he needs to make tiny hills of soil around each... (full context)
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In the following days, Nathan wakes up with a horrible rash. He wonders aloud to Orleanna why God is punishing... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
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Nathan has organized a Christian pageant, Rachel thinks, designed to attract as many visitors as possible.... (full context)
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Nathan’s first idea for the pageant, Rachel recalls, was that the children of the village would... (full context)
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...children. Rachel notices that the townspeople are wearing clothes, suggesting that word has spread that Nathan doesn’t approve of nakedness. Everyone stares at Rachel, which Rachel is used to. She’s blond,... (full context)
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...arrival. Rachel notices that Orleanna, who fixed the fried chicken, has truly “won the crowd.” Nathan looks sad and lonely, however. He just stares out at the river, where no one... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
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...toys. Ruth May isn’t sure if the little girl should be considered a sinner, as Nathan says, or if she should be forgiven, as Orleanna thinks. (full context)
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Ruth May reports that Rachel has become badly sunburned. Nathan thought that being in the Congo would be good for Rachel, because it would make... (full context)
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Ruth May remembers her father’s rocking chair back in Georgia, a chair that only Nathan was allowed to sit in. Ruth May and Orleanna laugh about the chair, because someone... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
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...Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Adah is a voracious reader, though many of her favorite books Nathan doesn’t approve of, like science fiction and fantasy stories. Orleanna was the one who first... (full context)
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...house in the Congo. She’s named the parrot Methuselah. Methuselah has learned one phrase from Nathan’s predecessor in the Congo, Brother Fowles: “piss off.” Adah thinks about this bird whenever her... (full context)
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...find horrifying. They also notice that the plot of soil that Mama Tataba had advised Nathan to reshape into piles has been destroyed by the deluge: the seeds have been swept... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10
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After the first rainstorm, Nathan’s garden thrives, growing pumpkins and beans. Meanwhile, Rachel’s 16th birthday arrives. Orleanna tries and fails... (full context)
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Methuselah learns a new word, “Damn.” Nathan finds this infuriating, and he demands to know who taught the bird that word. Leah... (full context)
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As Leah copies verses, she hopes that Nathan took Rachel’s comment as a confession. Secretly, though, Leah knows that it was Orleanna who... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 11
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Adah describes how Nathan throws around the word “amen,” and she refers to this process as the “amen enema”... (full context)
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Afterwards, Nathan eats supper with the rest of his family. Adah notes that Nathan rarely strikes his... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
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Leah notices that Nathan prays and thinks alone in the garden. Later, he tells Leah about a Bible convention... (full context)
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In August, Nathan preaches about baptism. Later in the day, Mama Tataba yells at Nathan, though Leah can’t... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 13
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...like this, Orleanna thought of herself both as one of her own daughters and as Nathan’s wife. “We’re all women,” she thinks. Orleanna still can’t imagine how her daughters—now grown women—managed... (full context)
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...the Congolese have. Orleanna also considers Mama Tataba. She was driven off, she thinks, by Nathan’s “frightful confidence.” (full context)
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...to love her half the time—probably because they, too, were so frightened and intimidated by Nathan. Orleanna remembers that Nathan used to play football in high school. Perhaps this gave him... (full context)
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Orleanna continues to think about Nathan. As time went on in Africa, Nathan’s Christian mission became increasingly difficult to achieve. The... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 14
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...interested in playing outside than her siblings. She wishes she could spend more time with Nathan, but instead, she goes hunting for Pygmies (small birds) and feeds Methuselah. She notices that... (full context)
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...childhood; in fact, he’s been doing grown-up work for years now. Leah feels angry with Nathan for raising her as a “white preacher’s child from Georgia.” She’s embarrassed for being so... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 15
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...May climbs trees in the afternoon, since Orleanna encourages her to study in the morning (Nathan, by contrast, insists that women shouldn’t go to college). On this particular day, Ruth May... (full context)
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...has broken her arm. She is angry with Ruth May, but she’s afraid that if Nathan finds out that Ruth May was climbing trees he’ll whip Ruth May. Eeben Axelroot is... (full context)
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Nathan flies with Ruth May to the nearest reliable doctor, as Axelroot flies them out of... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 16
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Anatole uses the dinner to tell Nathan that Tata Ndu is angry with the “moral decline” of the village—a decline he attributes... (full context)
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...is perceived as magical, in part because he has six toes on his left foot. Nathan yells that this man is a “witch doctor.” Orleanna takes this as her cue to... (full context)
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From the kitchen, Rachel hears Anatole tell Nathan that Nathan shouldn’t think of Tata Kuvudundu as his competition. Instead of responding to this,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 17
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...hammock and relaxes. As she lies there, Tata Ndu arrives and demands to speak to Nathan right away. He tells Nathan that Adah has been eaten by a lion. Ndu says... (full context)
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Eventually, Adah gets up and shuffles over to Nathan and Ndu. Ndu is highly embarrassed, and leaves at once. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 18
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...flat-chested and skinny, and adds that she doesn’t have much interest in marrying a man. Nathan insists that a woman who doesn’t get married is ignoring God’s plan. Rachel, unlike Leah,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 20
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...will have democratic elections this year, leading up to their declaration of independence in June. Nathan points out that Belgium won’t accept the terms of the election. Rachel is annoyed that... (full context)
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Frank Underdown reminds Nathan that he wasn’t really supposed to come to the Congo at all, as the Mission... (full context)
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Frank Underdown tries to restore calm, and he tells Orleanna and Nathan that he doesn’t know how much longer the Prices should be staying in Kilanga, due... (full context)
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...because of the Belgians’ cruelty over the decades. Frank doesn’t have a response to this. Nathan claims that the Congolese wouldn’t even know if there were an election—they’re too isolated and... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 21
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...a constant “wave” of dead children in the village—Pascal’s brother died just the other day. Nathan seems not to care about the dying children; he’s more concerned with the children’s souls. (full context)
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...Congo as a “place for cannibals.” Adah admits that they might have a point—after all, Nathan did offer children to the crocodiles. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 22
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Rachel describes how Nathan flies to Stanleyville with Eeben Axelroot to pick up more quinine pills (necessary for treating... (full context)
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Rachel notes that Nathan is angry with the Underdown family. They send him supplies every month, but they also... (full context)
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...has been elected the new Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo. Orleanna asks Nathan if Lumumba is a Communist, and Nathan answers that he’s not sure. Rachel imagines Lumumba... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 23
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Ruth May reports that Nathan and Leah flew away “on the plane.” This isn’t Axelroot’s plane, but a special charter... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 24
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Leah and Nathan have patched things up, Leah claims. They’re going to Leopoldville together instead of flying out... (full context)
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...Leopold, the Belgian leader who made the Congo “what it is today.” Afterwards, Leah and Nathan run into the Underdowns. Mrs. Underdown is shocked to see them—Nathan is supposed to be... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 26
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...as the little beast’s mother. Orleanna points out that there have always been fathers like Nathan, who think that daughters should work, bear children, and do nothing else. She hoped for... (full context)
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...father, who believed in the “religion” of his medical practice, and nothing else. Orleanna met Nathan at the age of 17, when he was handsome and charismatic. He was already very... (full context)
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Orleanna married Nathan in the late 1930s. After that, she was saddened when America declared war on Japan... (full context)
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After Nathan left the hospital, he was sent to Bataan, where he and his peers were captured,... (full context)
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Now back in the South, Orleanna compares her early days of marriage to Nathan (After he returned from Bataan) to being dominated by a “foreign power.” She felt that... (full context)
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Nathan believed one thing: God rewards the righteous. Orleanna went through her marriage with a constant... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 27
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Leah and Nathan fly from Leopoldville to Kilanga. When they’re back at home, Leah is very hungry, and... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 28
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Adah learns other words, such as “batiza,” or “baptism,” the practice that Nathan has worked so hard to introduce to the Congo. Interestingly, “batiza” can also mean “to... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 29
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...sideways. As she lies down, she thinks about her secrets. Ruth May secretly wishes that Nathan would leave and never come back—but only Jesus knows about this. Ruth May has a... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 30
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...them wanting for food. At this time, Orleanna and Ruth May become sick and feverish. Nathan ignores them, however. He just continues with his preaching, leaving Adah, Rachel, and Leah to... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 31
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...tells Leah the other reason he’s stopped by the house: he needs to talk to Nathan. Leah promises to tell Nathan the news, and Anatole explains that Moise Tshombe, the leader... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 32
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...she has feverish dreams about black children playing with her in the night. She sees Nathan yelling, “God will know the difference,” and she sees Rachel falling to the ground. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 33
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...different now that she’s had a brush with deadly disease. She speaks her mind to Nathan more often, and seems more energetic. This makes Leah more eager to question Nathan’s authority... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 34
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Nathan returns to the house, and greets Mr. Bird. Bird reveals himself to be Brother Fowles—Nathan’s... (full context)
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Nathan and Fowles begin a subtle contest in which Nathan quotes a Bible verse and Fowles... (full context)
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Rachel notices that Nathan isn’t trying to make Fowles feel the least bit welcome in the house, and Fowles... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 35
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...antelope meat, a basket, etc. Ndu returns to the Price house many times, always complimenting Nathan’s daughters, but after a month of this, the Prices still aren’t sure how to ask... (full context)
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...his heart set on Rachel. As Nelson puts it, he wants to “buy” Rachel from Nathan. Nelson also explains that he likes Rachel because he thinks her fair complexion will be... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 36
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...Tata Ndu. Whenever Tata Ndu visits from now on, she makes herself scarce. Orleanna and Nathan hit on the idea of pretending that Rachel is engaged to Eeben Axelroot. Word gets... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 38
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...Tata Ndu continues to come to the house to ask about Rachel. He explains to Nathan that Rachel must be taken to be “cut” so that she won’t try to “run... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 40
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Nathan has changed his tune in church, and now he tries to work Congolese phrases into... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 41
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...only say, “things are different from here.” She also asks Anatole why he’s been translating Nathan’s sermons. Anatole explains that he’s been doing his duty. Leah presses the point, insisting that... (full context)
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Leah and Anatole continue discussing Nathan. Anatole admits that he doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ’s divinity—he trusts knowledge, math, and science... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 43
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...and thinks about the children who have died in the village. Whenever a child dies, Nathan goes to visit the child’s parents and tries to explain how the parents could have... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 47
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...move away just in time. Orleanna carried Ruth May out of the house, saying that Nathan had already run out. Adah tries to keep up with Orleanna and her sisters, but... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 48
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...Ruth May have gone ahead with Tata Boanda. Rachel, Anatole says, is a “demon,” and Nathan is even now sermonizing about the ants. Leah quietly asks Anatole if this is all... (full context)
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...The other villagers support the Prices at all times: even now, the villagers are rowing Nathan across the river, and for the last few months, the neighbors have been placing extra... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 49
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...she always comes to the same conclusion—it’s useless thinking “what if.” If she hadn’t married Nathan, for example, she would never have had her beautiful daughters. (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 50
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...the drought, Ruth May’s illness, and the ants. Lately, Leah has also been unimpressed with Nathan’s enthusiasm for the Bible. One Sunday in church, Nathan delivers a sermon, and afterwards someone... (full context)
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Tata Ndu orders his villagers to proceed with their voting, despite Nathan’s urgings to the contrary. Ndu points out that elections are a “white tradition,” which Nathan... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 51
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...Leah is the cause of the Prices’ problems. Lately, Leah has been talking back to Nathan—a sharp change from her old behavior. One day, Leah declares that she’ll go hunting with... (full context)
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Nathan was adamantly opposed to Leah’s hunting. He warned her that she must not participate, no... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 56
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...few moments, she gives in and begins eating antelope meat. She watches as Leah and Nathan wage a “war” with each other. Nathan tells Leah that she’s disobeyed him, meaning that... (full context)
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...saw an “X” shape in the chicken house—a traditional omen of danger in the future. Nathan sternly tells Nelson that he’s been worshipping “false idols.” Nelson goes back out to the... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 60
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...in the morning, and she’s scared of what she’s about to say to Orleanna and Nathan. (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 61
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...of Ruth May’s death. She’s eerily calm, as if she already knew what had happened. Nathan’s reaction is different—he says that Ruth May wasn’t baptized yet. Leah finds this reaction pathetic—how... (full context)
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...to God for Ruth May’s soul, mostly out of habit. It begins to rain, and Nathan stares out at the clouds and quotes Bible verses. Slowly, a crowd forms around the... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 62
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Orleanna continues talking about “staying in motion.” She explains that while she tried to move, Nathan refused to move at all—he stayed stubbornly still, even while the rest of the world... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 63
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...long periods of time, and Rachel is unusually quiet. On the walk, Leah considers why Nathan isn’t traveling with the rest of the family: he refuses to abandon his post in... (full context)
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After two days of traveling through the forest, the Prices (minus Nathan) arrive in Bulungu. They catch fevers shortly afterwards, and yet their visit to Bulungu is... (full context)
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...what happens in the following weeks. Orleanna and Adah leave Leopoldville, returning to the U.S. Nathan is still stationed in Kilanga. Rachel has left with her “devil savior,” Axelroot. Anatole is... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 65
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...of love and attention into her gardening—something she never did when she was living with Nathan. (full context)
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Recently, Adah went through Nathan’s old things, still in the family house in Georgia. She discovered that Nathan’s military decorations... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 66
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Leah has heard from Tata Boanda and others that Nathan hasn’t been doing well lately. He lives alone in Kilanga, without a woman to cook... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 68
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...murdered on Christmas Day for opposing the Mobutu government. Brother Fowles also told Leah that Nathan had been continuing with his missionary efforts until very recently. Nathan was forced to leave... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 73
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...wives. This reminds Rachel of her three husbands. Leah and Adah begin to talk about Nathan. Adah claims that she got word that Nathan was in Lusambo five years ago, before... (full context)
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The sisters proceed in silence for a few hours. Then Leah begins talking about Nathan again. Reverend Fowles has told Leah that “Tata Prize” (as Nathan is now known) had... (full context)
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Rachel tries to comfort Leah. She tells Leah that while Leah loved Nathan more than Nathan’s other daughters, Nathan was an awful man. Leah, still crying, claims to... (full context)
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...kill” is a part of the Bible. This makes Adah and Leah chuckle—together, they salute Nathan, “the Minister of Poisonwood.” Suddenly, Adah realizes something—Nathan’s legendary “five wives” must have been a... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 74
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Adah notes that Rachel is secretly remorseful for Nathan’s untimely death. Adah travels back to Georgia and tells Orleanna about Nathan. In response, Orleanna... (full context)
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...are doing all right—Leah is thin, and Rachel has barely changed. Adah tells Orleanna that Nathan died “in a blaze of glory,” just the way he would have wanted, and Orleanna... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 75
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Leah now has four children: Pascal, Patrice, Martin-Lothaire, and Nathaniel. Each son is named after a man who died suddenly. Nathaniel, her youngest child, was... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 77
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Leah often thinks about her father. If she could tell Nathan one thing, she would offer him, “the simple human relief of knowing you’ve done wrong,... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 78
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In the end, Adah thinks of Nathan as an important influence on her life—the provider of half of her DNA, after all.... (full context)