The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

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Tata Kuvudundu Character Analysis

A witch-doctor and Kilanga resident who resents Nathan Price and his family for bringing Christianity—in Kuvudundu’s eyes, a dangerous, even poisonous force—to the Congo. Kuvudundu tries to attack the Price family by placing a poisonous green mamba snake near the area where Ruth May plays. Ultimately, this snake bites and kills Ruth May, setting in motion the events of the second half of the novel. Kuvudundu is ostracized from his community when news of his plot comes to light.

Tata Kuvudundu Quotes in The Poisonwood Bible

The The Poisonwood Bible quotes below are all either spoken by Tata Kuvudundu or refer to Tata Kuvudundu . 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 4, Chapter 55 Quotes

And so it came to pass that the normal, happy event of dividing food after a hunt became a war of insults and rage and starving bellies. There should have been more than enough for every family. But as we circled to receive our share of providence, the fat flanks of the magnificent beasts we’d stalked on the hill shrank to parched sinew, the gristle of drought-starved carcasses. Abundance disappeared before our eyes. Where there was plenty, we suddenly saw not enough. Even little children slapped their friends and stole caterpillars from each other’s baskets. Sons shouted at their fathers. Women declared elections and voted against their husbands. The elderly men whose voices hardly rose above a whisper, because they were so used to being listened to, were silenced completely in the ruckus. Tata Kuvudundu looked bedraggled and angry. His white robe was utterly blackened with ash. He raised his hands and once again swore his prophecy that the animals and all of nature were rising up against us.

Related Characters: Leah Price (speaker), Tata Kuvudundu
Page Number: 354
Explanation and Analysis:

In this long scene, Kingsolver offers us an allegory of capitalism. The Congolese village has successfully completed a huge hunt: the hunters have killed a large number of wild animals, with the help of the children, the women, etc. In short, everybody has earned their equal share of the food. But instead of dividing the food equally, the villagers quibble over portion sizes. People greedily take too much, meaning that other people are given too little. Over time, a scarcity arises—somehow, there's not enough food to go around. Just like in a capitalist society (at least according to Kingsolver), the competition for more results in an overall deterioration of social relations: the villagers become each other's enemies.

It's important to note that the hunting scene arrives shortly before the assassination of Patrice Lumumba—the political tragedy that will usher in an era of rampant capitalism and foreign investment in the Congo. Kingsolver foreshadows the economic depression and social breakdown that Lumumba's death will ultimately cause.

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Tata Kuvudundu Character Timeline in The Poisonwood Bible

The timeline below shows where the character Tata Kuvudundu appears in The Poisonwood Bible. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2, Chapter 16
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...describe the other religions that the Kilanga villagers are attracted to. There’s a man named Tata Kuvudundu —someone whom Orleanna had dismissed as the town drunk—whom the villagers actually regard as a... (full context)
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
From the kitchen, Rachel hears Anatole tell Nathan that Nathan shouldn’t think of Tata Kuvudundu as his competition. Instead of responding to this, Nathan tells Anatole that he should leave... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 51
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...the village was too desperate to spare any archers, whether they were female or male. Tata Kuvudundu , the witch doctor, on the other hand, argued that horrible things happen whenever people... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 55
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
...the celebration and hides in Orleanna’s arms. Meanwhile, a few of the hunters, led by Tata Kuvudundu , argue that Leah shouldn’t have been hunting at all, in spite of her talent... (full context)
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...take their share of meat, reversing Leah’s stubbornness, and return to their house. Leah notices Tata Kuvudundu , shouting about how the animals will “rise up” against the village. (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 66
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...also told Leah that Tata Ndu was furious when he found out (from Nelson) that Tata Kuvudundu planted a snake in the chicken house. (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 73
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Culture Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon
...say how she knows this. Leah also reports that she’s heard of the death of Tata Kuvudundu —he spent the final years of his life in disgrace for what he did with... (full context)