The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible Glossary


Angola is a country in Southern Africa that works towards democratic and socialist reform.


The Apocrypha is a collection of books of the Bible often left out of Protestant versions. It is found in the Old Testament.


Baptism is a Christian ritual of salvation in which water is poured on a person or a person is submerged in water. In the novel, Nathan Price insists on baptizing the natives, which incurs the wrath of a few of the villagers, since crocodiles have killed people in the river in which the baptisms occur.


Colonialism was an era when the Western and European powers of the world ruled smaller, poorer nations such as those in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.


Communism is a system of economics that promotes class equality and the equal distribution of goods and wealth.


The Congo was a country in Southern Africa. It was renamed Zaire and today is called the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo is where most of the action in The Poisonwood Bible occurs.


A coup is the act of overthrowing a sitting government, usually through military force.


Dysentery is a disease that causes fatal cases of diarrhea. It is often caused by contaminated water sources.


Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States from 1953-1960.

green mamba

The green mamba is a poisonous snake that lives in the trees. Rachel Price, the youngest daughter, is killed by a green mamba planted by an enemy of Nathan Price.


Khrushchev was the leader of communist Russia during the 1950's and 60's.


The Kwilu is a river in the Congo.


Malaria is a disease transmitted through mosquitos. It causes high fever and hallucinations and can be fatal.


Karl Marx is a 19th century philosopher credited with developing the philosophical and political system of communism.


The okapi is a small deer-like animal found in the jungles of Africa. It is believed to by a mythical creature.


A palindrome is a word or phrased spelled the same way backwards as it is forwards. Adah Price enjoys forming palindromes as a way to avoid boredom.


Pantheism is the belief that all things in nature are divine.


Poisonwood is a poisonous African plant that causes rashes for those who touch it.


Quinine are pills that fight off malaria.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah were biblical cities destroyed by God's wrath for their sinfulness.

Tribes of Ham

The Tribes of Ham is a reference to the biblical story of Noah. In this story, Ham, Noah's son saw his father naked and was cursed - this incident was thought to be the start of the African race and is a story often used to promote racial bias against black people.


Voodoo is an ancient religion of African descent. It relies on ancestor worship and speaking with the dead.