The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible


Barbara Kingsolver

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The Hills of Soil

There’s no better symbol for the fallacies of imperialism than the hills of soil that Mama Tataba builds for the Prices’ garden in Kilanga. Mama Tataba knows from personal experience that the best way to…

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Methuselah, the parrot who Brother Fowles kept during his time in Kilanga (and who later becomes a pet for the Price family), is a complicated symbol. At times, he symbolizes the captivity in which the…

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The English-speaking characters in Poisonwood learn a number of Congolese words, such as “bangala.” But “bangala” can mean two different, even opposite things: pronounced one way, it means “good,” but pronounced slightly differently, it means…

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The Bow and Arrow

The bow and arrow are a traditional symbol of female empowerment (dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks, who worshipped Artemis, the bow and arrow-toting goddess of the hunt). Thus, it’s appropriate that…

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The Okapi

The first—and last—important symbol in the novel is the okapi; the strange animal that Orleanna witnesses during her walk through the jungles of the Congo. As befits such an important symbol, it resists easy interpretation…

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