How The Poisonwood Bible Relates To Sociology.

1485 words - 6 pages

The Poisonwood Bible Book CritiqueSociology can be defined as the study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society. The Poisonwood Bible is a perfect example of this, as a family is forced to leave their home in America, to a small shack in the Congo of Africa. Nathan Price, takes his wife, four daughters, and the mission to the Belgian Congo, where the minister hopes to educate the people there, in believing that his is most definitely the correct faith, or the right thing to believe. As the family struggles to survive and communicate in such a different society, the minister is dead set on changing the beliefs, faith, and ultimately, the people of the Congo.As a soldier during World War II, Nathan escaped the Battaan Death March, and the almost death that came with it. Because he escaped the fate of the rest of his battalion he views himself as a coward, despised by God. He vows to never be a coward again, which means he will never leave a dangerous situation behind again. He devotes his entire life to saving as many souls as he can, through his missionary work. His attempt to save unenlightened souls has nothing to do with the well being of those particular souls. But instead, like all others that he undertakes, has as its only goal the well being of his own soul. He is so obsessed with securing his own personal ticket to salvation that he knowingly imperils the lives of his wife and daughters. He is unable to look outside of his own need even for their sakes. It seems that Nathan not only lacks the appropriate level of concern and compassion for his family, but that he positively resents them. Nathan is, first of all, a rabid male chauvinist who dismisses the very possibility of female intelligence. However, his complex relationship to his family does not derive from anything so simple as mere sexism. Convinced that God is constantly watching and judging him, and does not approve of any activity not devoted to spreading His name, Nathan is enraged by his own sexual urges. Instead of turning his rage on himself, however, he conveniently turns his rage on his wife for tempting him, and on his daughters for being the physical manifestations, or proof, of his lapses in will power. His abusive behavior toward them, including his endangerment of their lives, can be seen as a form of revenge on those who would make him something other than who he wants to be.The Poisonwood Bible is an extreme reflection of Western colonialism and post-colonialism, an depiction of cultural arrogance and greed. Nathan Price serves as the personal incarnation of Western hue, unquestioning in his missionary enthusiasm to overturn the ancient traditions of the Congo and replace them with his own religious beliefs. Yet nearly all of the non-African characters are marked by this fault for at least some portion of the book. From Leah's initial certainty in her father's mission, to the...

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