The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible


Barbara Kingsolver

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The Poisonwood Bible: Book 2, Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Ruth May reports that she tried to see Nelson naked. When Nelson gets up in the morning he’s naked, and he puts on his clothes in the chicken house. One morning, Ruth May sneaks outside and peers into the chicken house. There, she meets Nelson, already dressed. He shows her the chickens in the chicken house, and takes in some eggs for Orleanna.
Ruth May is maturing, along with her other sisters. She’s entering the age when she’s conscious of sexual attraction to (or at least curiosity about) other people.
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Nelson tells Ruth May that the people of the village have “one foot in the church and one foot out.” Ruth May isn’t sure what this means. Ruth May also notices that Leah has taken an owl for a pet, something that annoys both Nelson and Pascal—they claim that owls “eat souls.” This reminds Ruth May that the people of Kilanga don’t really trust the Prices, and some of them are even scared of Jesus. Most people in the village worship other gods. Ruth May admits that she’s scared of Jesus, too.
The Congolese aren’t wholly committed to Christianity, or to any religion, in the sense that Nathan wants them to be. Ruth May’s own fear of Jesus also shows just how unsuccessful Nathan has been in his attempts to convert people. If Nathan presents himself as a representative of Jesus and Christianity, then of course the religion won’t seem very appealing at all.
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