The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible


Barbara Kingsolver

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Poisonwood Bible can help.

Everything you need
for every book you read.

"Sooo much more helpful than SparkNotes. The way the content is organized
and presented is seamlessly smooth, innovative, and comprehensive."
Get LitCharts A+

The Poisonwood Bible: Book 3, Chapter 42 Summary & Analysis

After Rachel’s birthday, Axelroot visits her and takes her for a walk to keep up the appearance that they’re engaged. Axelroot makes Rachel laugh by joking about Rachel’s sisters, and he mentions that Adah spies on her from time to time. He offers Rachel a Lucky Strike cigarette, and Rachel smokes it, laughing. Axelroot claims he can get Rachel cigarettes any time she wants.
Axelroot knows perfectly well that he has a lot of power over Rachel; he can get her to do things for him because he’s keeping her secret from Tata Ndu. There’s also definitely an attempted seduction going on here.
Freedom, Growth, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Axelroot and Rachel walk by a large group of women returning from the field. Axelroot flirts with them, calling them “ladies of Kilanga.” This offends Rachel, and she tells herself never to forget that Axelroot is a “creep.” Axelroot tries to apologize, but this makes Rachel even more annoyed.
Axelroot apologizes, but he also knows he doesn’t have to hide anything from Rachel—he most of the power right now, so Rachel has to continue spending time with him whether he flirts with others or not.
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Axelroot changes the subject to politics. He tells Rachel a secret—Lumumba, the Prime Minister, is as good as dead. He will be assassinated very soon, and Axelroot will have “orders” to perform immediately afterwards. Rachel is confused about Axelroot’s explanation, and can’t help but feeling sorry for Axelroot, as she assumes he’s exaggerating to impress her.
For the time being, Rachel seems not to grasp how powerful and well-connected Axelroot really is. In part, this is a product of her narcissism—it’s easier for her to believe that Axelroot is obsessively trying to impress her than it is to believe that he’s a powerful CIA ally.
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
Imperialism Theme Icon