Free Study Guide for The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver BookNotes|
THE POISONWOOD BIBLE FREE STUDY GUIDE
Anatole is the orphaned African schoolteacher who was rescued and educated by missionaries prior to the arrival of the Price family. He is a minor character in terms of his own development but of major importance in his perceptions of and relationship to Leah. He is not afraid to take a stand for what he believes is right, regardless of whether it means defending his own people or defending the missionary family.
The Native American authors often focus their stories around relationships between people and land; but even lacking such awareness, a person could not read Poisonwood Bible without realizing that the Congo itself is one of the major "characters" of the book. In fact, one could even make the argument that the land is the silent protagonist. While I am stopping short of making such a case here, it is nonetheless apparent that each of the major characters must learn to define him or herself in relationship to this jungle that "eats itself and lives forever." The jungle is unchanging; when left to itself, even those areas deforested by human intrusion begin to live again and return to an earlier state. While damage is inflicted by invaders, in the end, the land wins the battle. The Africans call it "muntu" a word that encompasses all being, past, present and future, living, dead, and yet unborn.
Furthermore, the American Indian belief that humans take on different
forms under varying circumstances coincides with a similar tradition among
the jungle people. Thus there is not the least sense of incredulity over
the idea of Ruth May becoming a green mamba snake, of taking on the wisdom
and omniscient character of the forest and still retaining the essence
of her own human spirit.
Brother Fowles / his wife
Missionaries of Kilanga prior to the Price family. Brother Fowles married an African woman and stayed behind when the Europeans and Americans were advised to get out of the Congo.
The pilot of a private plane who brings supplies into Kilanga and provides transportation out for emergencies. He seems to have government connections and knows a great deal about the political manipulation going on in the Congo. While he implies that he may have CIA connections, he is also clearly a smuggler of diamonds and other African treasures. He has little moral character; Rachel agrees to marry him as part of a scheme to get out of the Congo, but actually does marry him when her mother leaves the mission and Rachel has no where else to go.
An African woman who worked as housekeeper and cook for the Price family. Leaves the family early in the story after an argument about baptizing the African children.
Kilanga chief. Has no use for Nathan Price, but exhibits his own brand of compassion in trying to marry Rachel when the Price’s lose their financial stipend.
One of Anatole’s students. He is sent to cook and help the family when Anatole finds out first hand how desperately they need someone.
The first African child to become a real friend to the girls. He gets acquainted through Ruth May’s game "mother may I," then spends time with Leah and Adah as well. He is instrumental in teaching the girls African words and concepts.
A village man who bring money and other items to Leah and Anatole to help them escape.
Village witch doctor who creates curses and plants the snake that kills Ruth May
Village woman who lost her legs in a fire. Exhibits compassion and selflessness in her attempts to help the Price family.
A Belgian couple who claim to have started the Kilanga mission. They meet the Price family in Leopoldville and attempt to fill them in on what to expect in Kilanga. They also function as messengers regarding political events.
Acquaintances of Rachel in South Africa. Known for giving elaborate parties. Rachel sees their life style as something she wants to copy.
The first prime minister of independent Congo. Enjoys his position for a mere two weeks. Important to the novel because his election is the first experience the village people had with voting and gives the Tata Ndu the idea of "elections" involving the Price’s later on. Also represents a political position which makes life dangerous for Anatole and Leah after they are married.
He took over the Congo in a military coup supported by Belgium and the United States.
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Ruff, Karen DA. "TheBestNotes on The Poisonwood Bible".
. 09 May 2017