How did Kingolver address the theme of western control in other countries?
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One of the novel's major themes involves the issue of Western control over different countries and cultures of the world. Kingsolver looks as this theme on both a micro (local) and macro (political) level.
On the local level, Kingsolver debates the merits of taking Western notions of religion and progress, and implanting them into cultures that do not necessarily accept them as values. The Christianity of Nathan Price has difficulty taking root in a culture which views religion in more practical terms. While Price preaches of salvation from hell, the people of Kilanga make decision on which gods to worship based on how well those gods protect them from disease, flood, or drought. Price simply cannot understand why the people do not worry over the salvation of their souls and he fails to recognize that the matter of food and survival are more important to the culture than eternal life.
On the political level, Kingsolver details the troubles that Western systems of government have in cultures that are not ready for them. The people of the Congo are used to the rich traditions of rule they inherited from their ancestors. They have difficulty in adjusting to the demands of democracy in which a majority is able to rule and a minority loses their opinion. This leads to the rise of violent dictatorships as the US and other foreign powers attempt to control the Congo and as the people of the Congo attempt to gain their own independence.