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The Evolution of Colonialism in the Poisonwood Bible

  • Date Submitted: 03/24/2010 04:56 PM
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The Evolution of Colonialism in the Poisonwood Bible
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver strikes an unmistakable resemblance to the popular Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Civilized westerns traveling to an unknown darkness, unexplored, with little to no laws. This journey, which is suppose to for the good of the Africans, leads to chaos and ultimately, complete failure. These similar books however have differences as they both represent colonialism through different points of view. Heart of Darkness comes from a male perspective, easily influenced by what society tells him about about Africans, on a journey. Poisonwood Bible comes from women, who at that time were treated just how Congo was, “colonized, and stripped of all valuables”(199). With the women perspective comes a lighter and less bias point of view.
Kingsolver uses all female narrators in an attempt to relate their experiences and feelings to her views of colonization. The women are constantly oppressed by Nathan Price as Africa is oppressed by colonizers. The women cannot speak out to Nathan Price, not even his wife, which is similar to the citizens of Africa, as they are helpless living in an isolated and unexplored area where they can't ask anyone for help. Kingsolver makes these relations clear and even the characters themselves compare themselves to Africa being colonized. Orleanna compares her marriage with Nathan as “riches stolen from the emptied-out mine of her womb”(261) directly after talking about the American's in the diamond mine. This helps readers understand more about colonialism and her views towards it as we constantly relates it to the main characters. It is an add-on from Heart of Darkness where the narration was from the point of view of a white male who had very many sexist views to the “less powerful” women.
Kingsolver still sheds some light and positivity toward colonialism. This is a direct contrast from Conrad's ideals as he believes colonialism is a...


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