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Copy of The Poisonwood Bible: Character Project

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Nora Hartman

on 16 September 2013

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Transcript of Copy of The Poisonwood Bible: Character Project

General Overview of Literary Devices
Tells the story in past tense
Her section begins every book, and that is the only time she narrates
In her first section, she foreshadows the plot of the entire novel
Orleanna's abusive and distant relationship with her husband serves as a political allegory for foreign involvement in the Congo
Regretful and nostalgic tone
More eloquently spoken than all of the other characters- likely because she has had time to reflect
Orleanna Price
Presented by: Kate Chwistek, Kaitlyn Hedger, Kathy Luangphixay, Ami Davidson, Nora Hartman

Orleanna Price: General Character
Mother figure and one of the primary caretakers of the novel.
Describes herself as “Orleanna Price, Southern Baptist by marriage, mother of children living and dead” (Kingsolver 7).
Towards the middle of the novel, Orleanna becomes more outspoken.
Acknowledges and regrets her mistakes
“I could have been a different mother” (87).
Daughters
Favorite daughter is Ruth May
"Ruth May is all she cares about" (268).
”Those glassy museum stares have nothing on you, my uncaptured favorite child, wild as the as the day is long” (7).
Orleanna feels that her children do not appreciate Mama Tataba’s care for them
“… as she nourished our bodies. She pampered my ungrateful children…” (94).
Feels that her daughters think poorly of her
“My daughters would say: You see, mother, you had no life of your own” (8)
No wonder they hardly seemed to love me half the time--I couldn't step in from of my husband to shelter them from his scorching light" (96)
Aside from Ruth May, she is does not share a close emotional bond close to her children.
Parents
Relationship with mother:
“My mother died when I was quite young, and certainly a motherless girl will come up wanting in some respects, but in my opinion she has a freedom unknown to other daughters” (192).
Relationship with father:
“I don’t think Dad ever forgave me, later on, for becoming a Free Will Baptist. He failed to see why anyone would need more bluster and testimony about God’s Plan than what he found, for example, within the fine-veined world of an eyeball” (193).
Africa
Cultural differences
"They couldn’t understand that the sort of meal they took for granted, a thirty-minute production in the land of General Electric, translated here to a lifetime of avail” (93).
Orleanna talks about how her life has no meaning because her love for Africa has turned to something like cancer and her children don't need her.
"We aimed for no more than to have dominion over every creature that moved upon the earth" (10).
Spouse
Feels that wives are abused and mistreated by their husbands
“I was his instrument, his animal. Nothing more. How we wives and mothers do perish at the hands of our own righteousness” (89).
“…Nathan wouldn’t hear my worries”, Nathan did not care about the safety of his children and preoccupied himself with baptizing the Congolese (96).
Nathan noticed his family less and less; he was hardly a father as Orleanna recalled (98).
She remained in an abusive marriage because she felt it gave her an identity
“I married a man who could never love me, probably. It would have trespassed on his devotion to all mankind. I remained his wife because it was one thing I was able to do each day.” (8)
Figurative Language
Uses personification to describe Africa; this helps symbolize the threat of the Congolese conflict on individual lives. Readers are forced to acknowledge the African situation rather than distancing themselves from an issue that may seem so far from home.
"Africa swallowed the conqueror's music and sang a new song of her own" (385)
"Poor Congo, barefoot bride of men who took her jewels and promised the Kingdom" (201)
Often speaks in metaphor; allows readers to empathize with Orleanna's marital situation
"Nathan was in full possession of the country once known as Orleanna Wharton" (200)
Political allegory puts the Congolese situation into a personal and relatable context
"Independence is a complex word in a foreign tongue. To resist occupation, whether you're a nation or merely a woman, you must understand the language of your enemy" (383)
Spouse Continued
Grew up with preconceived notions about marriage
“What did I know of matrimony? From where I stood, it looked like a world of flattering attention, and what’s more, a chance to cross the county line” (195).
Believes that marriage leads to the destruction of individuality
“What is the conqueror's wife, if not a conquest herself?” (9).
“I was his instrument, his animal. Nothing more. How we wives and mothers do perish at the hands of our own righteousness” (89).
Political Opinions
Criticizes the Belgian and American political dealings in Africa
"They take turns leaning forward to point out their moves...playing it like a chess match, the kind of game that allows civilized men to play at make-believe murder...Who will be the kings, the rooks, and bishops...Which sacrificial pawns will be swept aside?" (317).
"...whatever your burdens, to hold yourself apart from the lot of more powerful men is an illusion" (323).
Skeptical of America's supposed intentions in Africa
"the Kennedy boy said...we need look no father than the Congo...for evidence of poor U.S. leadership, the missile gap, and proof of the Communist threat" (95).
Style/Language
Diction
Syntax
Tone
Orleanna often uses short, dramatic sentences or sentences separated by numerous commas; this allows her to draw the reader's attention to a particular point.
--Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know (385)
Omits conjunctions for added emphasis and ties together various descriptive elements
--"My little beast, my eyes, my favorite stolen egg" (385)
--"My baby, my blood, my honest truth" (382)
Orleanna's perspective begins each "book"; the author uses this to interject elements of foreshadowing in between the daughters' narratives.
-- "I knew Rome was burning, but I had just enough water to scrub the floor, so I did what I could" (383).
Her story is told in the past tense, allowing for a general overview of the family's experience in Africa rather than focusing on individual events. Because Orleanna has had time to reflect, her sections tend to be the most eloquently-written.
-- “Oh, it’s a fine and useless enterprise, trying to fix destiny. That trail leads straight back to the time before we ever lived, and into that deep well it’s easy to cast curses like stones on our ancestors. But that’s nothing more than cursing ourselves and all that made us.” (324).
Orleanna often chooses descriptive words that highlight similarities between her personal situation and the plight of the Congo.
--"I rode in with the horsemen and beheld the apocalypse, but still I'll insist I was only a captive witness" (9).
--"While my husband’s intentions crystallized as rock salt, and while I preoccupied myself with private survival, the Congo breathed behind the curtain of forest, preparing to roll over us like a river" (98).
Her diction mirrors that of the Bible; demonstrates the continued role of religion in her life.
--"Entreat me not to leave thee, for whither thou goest, I will go" (382)
Relies on a regretful tone to reflect her guilt over Ruth May's death; attempts to garner the reader's sympathy and her daughter's forgiveness
--"I could have been a different mother, you'll say. Could have straightened up and seen what was coming, for it was think in the air all around us" (87)
She looks as Africa as a mistake and feels guilty that she had her children suffer from it; driving the story in a negative direction
Uses a nostalgic tone when describing her early days with Nathan; offers justification for Orleanna's hesitancy to leave her husband
--"I found I had Nathan Price in my life...a handsome, young, red-haired preacher, who fell upon my soul like a dog and a bone" (194)
Full transcript