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Read With Us: The Poisonwood Bible Discussion

The day has come for us to discuss, here on the blog, over on Kym’s blog and also on Bonny’s blog, and even on Zoom, The Poisonwood Bible. And I’m so excited to have all of these discussions because . . . insert moment of anticipation . . . I adored this book! I give it ALL the stars and I can’t believe I ever felt differently about it.

It’s one of those books that hits all the sweet spots . . . a realistic setting, a compelling story, relatable characters, and gorgeous language. It’s far funnier than I remembered and I think that’s largely due to the excellent narration of the audio book. The one downfall of listening, though, is that I couldn’t highlight passages that I adored.

I did, however, acquire the book on my kindle, and I read some sections using the device and this quote in particular stood out for me. It’s in a section narrated by Rachel (which I think is fairly obvious, frankly) and she says:

But sometimes life doesn’t give you all that many chances at being good. Not here, anyway. Even Father learned that one the hard way. He came on strong, thinking he’d save the children, and what does he do but lose his own? That’s the lesson, right there. If you take a bunch of practically grown, red-blooded daughters to Africa, don’t you think at least some of them are going to marry or what have you, and end up staying? You can’t just sashay into the jungle aiming to change it all over to the Christian style, without expecting the jungle to change you right back.

A little further on she goes on to say:

I said to myself this little trip is going to be the ruin of the Price family as we know it. And, boy, was it ever.

I’d like to know what you think of that quote (I’m counting it as one passage for the sake of convenience.) How did their time in the Congo change Orleanna, Rachel, Leah, Adah and Ruth May? Were all of those changes bad or were some for the better? And was it truly the ruin of the Price family?


And don’t forget to check out the questions that Bonny and Kym pose today and please join us on Zoom tonight if you’re able.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Oooo! This is a good question, Carole! (and I am pretty sure if Nathan Price had a crystal ball and could see their future, he might have decided to stay home!!)

    Most obviously, the Price time in the Congo changed their family dramatically… what their family was … was no more. But in a more nuanced look, I think their family change began from the moment they arrived at the airport to head to the Congo. We (the readers) began to have an inkling of how ill prepared they were for this journey. I think the next big change for them came when the dear Congolese tried to help this ill-prepared family. And those who were open to change, learned… him who was not… well, he just kept failing more and more spectacularly (and I loved it!)

  2. I think it probably ruined their family structure as it was, but (excluding the tragedy that befell them) you could argue that it needed to be ruined. The women in that family needed to be set free, and I don’t think they would have had they not gone to Africa and seen that there are ways of life beyond the one set forth for them by Nathan. I think he was probably the only one who wasn’t changed by the experience — and he was the one who most needed his eyes opened!

    Can’t wait for tonight — I know we’re going to have a great discussion about this one!

  3. This was such an amazing and good book. I had read it decades ago and loved it, but listening to it now I’m sure I got more out of it than when I read it way back when. There were so many passages in the book that (if I had been reading rather than listening) I would have highlighted…but, the narrator did such an excellent job of “performing” five different voices, that I’m glad I listened. I believe the family was already headed toward ruin…going to the Congo just made the ruin come quicker!

  4. Like Kat said, their time in the Congo changed the Prices from a family to not-a-family. Orleanna begins to question the beliefs and decisions of her husband. She also learns to have some faith in her own beliefs. Rachel is initially self-absorbed and materialistic she soon matures and gains a deeper understanding of the world around her. Leah becomes deeply involved in the local community and develops a strong sense of empathy and social justice. Her time in the Congo shaped her identity and values profoundly. Adah develops a keen sense of irony and wit; her experiences in the Congo contribute to her self-acceptance. Ruth May experiences the Congo innocently and unquestioningly, but this ultimately leads to a tragic end.

    The changes experienced by the Price family members are varied and complex. While some changes may be perceived as negative initially, such as the trauma and loss they endure, they also lead to personal growth, transformation, and a deeper understanding of themselves and the world. I don’t think they would have become the people they are at the end of the book without their time in the Congo.

  5. I think the family just changed. I think they truly did not know what to expect and were not prepared for what they were going into.

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