In the novel, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver the story takes place mainly in the African country, Belgian Congo. Although, certain books within the novel were set in Atlanta and Sanderling Island, Georgia, Johannesburg, South Africa, and the French Congo. Its first publication was 1998. Kingsolver has five different characters, Orleanna Price and her four daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May narrate the novel. These narrators are taken to the Congo by Nathan Price, Orleanna’s husband and the girls’ father, because he feels it is his calling to convert all the people of the Congo into Christians. Throughout the novel the family’s faith wavers due to their lack of success in the Congo and the eventual death of Ruth May. They all leave Nathan in the Congo and move on in their lives. One of the major themes in the novel that reoccurs is that it is nearly impossible to get absolute justice on an international scale.
Justice means something different to everyone in the world. People have different ideas of what is justice and what doesn’t apply. In The Poisonwood Bible the Price women all start with and end with very different meanings of justice. However, they all try to make the world fair in some way only to realize it is impossible. For example, Adah gives up hope believing it is unjust for so many babies in Africa that die from malaria. She points out later in the novel that if we save all of these babies now, they will later die from something different. All the characters in the novel come to terms with the fact that the world has its own balance, which nobody can change. One life will always have to die to let another one live. Each of the women realizes this in a different way. Leah comes to despair of justice on a closer level. She admits, “There is not justice in this world” (522). She is referring to the difficulty of easing inevitable tragedy and the injustice that human beings can try to effect. Before the women lived in the Congo they were so sheltered by American living. As soon as they moved to the Congo their eyes opened to what injustice really is and how it affects the human race.
In this critical article by Jeanna White, White discusses Kingsolver’s use of disabilities as an extended metaphor throughout the novel and her use of disability to contrast the whites (Price Family) and the non-whites attitudes towards it. White says that white cultures view disabilities as a negative trait of a person. While non-white attitudes in the Congo from the novel views disabilities as something everyone has and as a part of life. White says that these scars aren’t “marginalizing differences, but are simply qualities of being” to illustrate the fact that in the novel there are so many disabilities in the world they are meant to be as a part of us not something that sets us apart. The literary representations of disabilities are used to influence a reader’s attitude toward a character, solidifying the...