The Poisonwood Bible And The Life Of Barbara Kingsolver

1468 words - 6 pages

Humans have the unique ability to create artwork. Be that in the form of a painting, musical composition, or work of fiction, creativity is the ability to rearrange available materials to create something unique and innovative. Many writers view writing as a way to express their deepest ideas and emotions creatively. American journalist Earnest Hemmingway believed that “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Writers often will use their own life experiences to re-experience important parts of their lives and translate it into a story to share with the world. Barbara Kingsolver expresses her ideas on sexism, cultural imperialism, and religion by creating the fictional story of the Poisonwood Bible using her own life experiences as content for the story.
Childhood events can massively affect the direction and outcome of one’s life. Childhood is where people develop the aspects of themselves that determine who they are as a person and what they represent. Barbara Kingsolver fervently explores cultural imperialism in a way that relates back to her own childhood memories. Kingsolver recounts, “We lived in Central Africa… I got a real extreme look at what it’s like to be a minority. It was an enormous adventure that let me know at the age of seven that there’s a great big world out there” (Epstein). White Americans make up 72% of the population, which implies that many of them have never been a racial minority. Barbara Kingsolver was in the unique position as a white American seven year old to be able to experience being a racial minority and she thinks back on this when writing The Poisonwood Bible. Nathan Price and his family voyage to the Congo with the intention of spreading the Word of God to the people in Africa much like Kingsolver did herself. However, Nathan Price’s philosophy leads him to attempt to convert them at any cost, and ends up doing more harm than good. Americans have believed the white man’s burden to be true for many years. That it is the responsibility of “superior” white people to impose their culture on people of countries “unfit” to rule themselves. This is what Nathan Price is trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, as seemingly good intentioned as this idea seems, the fact that it is based on an attitude of superiority and arrogance causes many moral conflicts. Kingsolver confronts this issue head-on, and her personal experience as a social outsider allowed her to explore it more deeply in the novel. It becomes difficult for Nathan Price to “reach out” to the people of the Congo, mainly because of cultural differences and the contrast in physical appearance. Kingsolver thought back to her childhood in order to empathize with the characters she created. “I grew up as a social outsider. And that had to do with being skinny and really tall, and not physically blending in” (Epstein). Nathan Price and his family are the outsiders as white Americans, and they believe that they are better than...

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