"The Poisonwood Bible" Essay

1440 words - 6 pages

The European conquest in Africa reinforced the notion of seizing seemingly primitive nations occupied by natives whose culture and lifestyle must be rationalized and modified to fit the standards of a modern country. Following the post-World War II era came the opportunity for the world's most powerful nations to make a significant impact on a war-torn world. The two super-power nations of the time, the United States and the Soviet Union, craved to influence vulnerable and poverty-ridden nations like Africa as these natives were easily to manipulate. A desire to spread and influence western ideology, specifically Christianity, to rural nations is depicted in Barbra Kingsolver's novel The ...view middle of the document...

Leah's effort to play Pascal's games symbolizes the Price family's attempt to absorb and familiarize themselves to the Congolese lifestyle. When Rachel states "I can recall, years ago, watching Rachel cry tears over a burn hole in her green dress while, just outside our door, completely naked children withered from the holes burning in their empty stomachs...", she notes key differences to what Americans and the Congolese view as problematic and upsetting (Kingsolver 511). Leah states that Rachel was upset as a result of a hole in her dress while starving children outside complain about having nothing to eat. This helps readers put things into perspective; what we may view as upsetting and stressful might be insignificant to others as they might have it much worse. This also helps depict the materialistic attitude of Postwar Americans with consumer goods while in other rural parts of the world, many struggle with the basic necessities such as food.
America's involvement in the Congo sparks controversy as they exploit the Congo for its natural resources as well as help facilitate and support the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. By doing so, America acts very similar to how the Europeans were in the colonial era which ultimately deteriorates their reputation and core values as a nation. Depicting the American exploitation of the Congolese and the negative image it has created for the Price family, the Doctor states "We Belgians made slaves of them and cut off their hands in the rubber plantations. Now you Americans have them for a slave wage in the mines and let them cut off their own hands. And you, my friend are stuck with the job of trying to make amens" (Kingsolver 148). The doctor emphasizes the overbearing work the Congolese have had to endure ever since the American's have arrived. He also critiques Reverend's Price's decision to travel to the Congo and spread the word of God as he is trying to instill faith and remedy the situation while his own country is the instigator conflicting all this suffering. When Adah says "Always they say: as good as dead. Patrice Lumumba. The voice on the radio said it many times. But the name of the two men spoke out loud to each other was the President...The King of America wants a tall, thin man in the Congo to be dead. Too many pebbles cast for the bottle. The bottle must be broke" referring to the United States' motives for assisting the Belgians with the assassination of Lumumba. The US helped with the assassination in order to continue gaining access to the Congo's rich natural resources, illustrating their disregard for the people and the horror that they will soon experience as Mobutu rises to power. Also, the bottle serves as a symbol for Lumumba as his increasing amount of support frightened the Belgians and Americans. The Belgians didn't want to lose their control over the Congo while the Americans believed that Lumumba was influenced by the socialist regime. Ultimately, the American...

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