The Poisonwood Bible

Point of View and Narration in Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible"

"The Poisonwood Bible," by Barbara Kingsolver, is a scathing critique of the destructive nature of pride and ambition, its narrative spanning over thirty years to reveal the tragic shortcomings of evangelist Nathan Price and the Western colonial attitudes he represents. In order to personalize the epic scope of the novel, Kingsolver writes in the first person, alternately inhabiting the minds of the four Price sisters and their mother, Orleanna. Although the hotheaded preacher, Nathan Price, is usually caught at the heart of the story's conflicts, the primary storytelling vehicles are his daughters, with his wife serving as a poetic footnote at key moments in the narration. Thus, the book can be read as five separate, but interdependent, stories, interwoven to form a coherent movement from beginning to end.

On the stage of the Congo's struggle for political independence, the saga of the Price family unfolds as a morality play, making the use of perspective and point of view critical to Kingsolver's rhetorical purpose. Rather than reading Nathan Price's self-righteous explanations of his own actions, the reader is given five different personalities through which to understand the failure of the Price...

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