Adah has become a successful doctor in Atlanta. She contemplates her Hippocratic oath—the oath that binds her to protect human life. Her colleagues recently accused her of cynicism for some of her actions as a medical researcher, but we’re not told which actions these were.
The question now becomes: if Leah attains happiness by finding a family with Anatole, how does Adah, her identical twin, find happiness? (Or does she?) It would seem that Adah takes greatest pleasure in her research and her work: science gives her a constant pleasure of discovery.
Adah offers a “creation story”—“God is a virus, God is an ant.” In other words, God is in all living things. The processes that most humans regard as hideous and frightening, such as forest fires, or the spread of AIDS and the Ebola virus, are in reality just cleansing activities, necessary to keep the Earth healthy.
Interestingly, Adah, who’s always been the most dismissive of Nathan’s Christianity, seems to be gravitating toward an almost religious view of the world: she sees a sacredness in all forms of life, and a cosmic balance in even the most chaotic of activities.
As a medical researcher, Adah has been researching rare African viruses. She’s good at her work because she’s not frightened of viruses—she thinks of them as her friends and kindred spirits. Some of her colleagues regard this as a cynical point of view, but in fact it’s a very beautiful one. Adah studies viruses with respect, and her respect for her subjects has made her an important AIDS researcher, honored with many awards.
Adah’s worldview is very unusual to some people. Where most would see tragedy in death, Adah sees a balance: for every animal that dies, another one survives. Because Adah doesn’t moralize her research, but rather surveys both viruses and human beings with objective attention, she’s very successful in her field.
Adah visits Orleanna once a month. Orleanna is quite old now, and suffers from several diseases she contracted in the Congo, such as tuberculosis. Adah is close with her mother, but doesn’t have any lovers. She’s had some in the past, but she can never force herself to get close to them, as they don’t understand her past. Adah continues to regard her former self—i.e., her body when she was suffering from hemiplegia—as an important part of her identity, one which no lover has ever been able to understand.
As the novel draws to a close, Kingsolver confronts the question of how her female characters deal with trauma, abuse, and misogyny. Adah, much like Orleanna, seems unwilling to forget the past: because she doesn’t moralize about “good” and “bad” bodies, she has a genuine nostalgia for her old, disabled self. This is laudable, but also rather sad—it’s cut her off from the kind of love that gives her identical twin so much happiness.
In the end, Adah thinks of Nathan as an important influence on her life—the provider of half of her DNA, after all. And yet she fully recognizes that Nathan was a hypocrite and a fool, who promoted a flawed morality, a “Poisonwood Bible.”
Adah’s sense of balance extends even to Nathan, the man she’s spent most of her life hating. So in a way, Adah forgives Nathan in much the same that Leah does: she recognizes that Nathan, in spite of his hypocrisy and foolishness, made her who she is today.