Free Study Guide for The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver BookNotes|
CHAPTER ANALYSIS THE POISONWOOD BIBLE BY BARBARA KINGSOLVER
The Things We Didn’t Know: Kilanga, Sept. 1960 (Continued)
(Cluster 6: Axelroot shows up for his weekly meander through the village with Rachel, and Leah begins to tell of the invasion of the ants.)
Rachel walks in the village with Axelroot; she is still concerned about her clothes and appearance, but is beginning to be thankful that she does not have a full-length mirror. He asks her what happened to her sister, referring to Adah, but she tells him all three were dropped on their heads as far as she is concerned. Then she explains Adah’s hemiplegia, which makes her do certain things "backwards." He accuses Adah of spying on him, but Rachel tells him that she spies on everyone as her idea of communication. Axelroot offers Rachel a cigarette, which she at first refuses but then accepts trying to act as though she has smoked before.
She is beginning to enjoy being with Axelroot when he makes a flirting remark to a group of passing Congo women. She knows the women hate him and has seen them spit on his shoes. He accuses her of arrogance, of thinking she is "the epicenter of a continent." He’s correct about her, but he also underestimates her intelligence, especially as it concerns himself. He gives political information which he thinks is privileged but which he assumes will be meaningless to her. He tries to tease her with an "important secret" in the form of information that Patrice Lumumba is soon to be assassinated. He also has information about the Katanga province having seceded from the Congo. Rachel responds by saying she is glad "someone has succeeded in something." Axelroot kisses her for the first time before returning to the mission house; she assumes that his "privileged information" is an act just to get her to let him kiss her.
Many of the village children have died in the recent round of malaria and dysentery. Nathan Price attempts to speak with all of the mothers who have lost children.
Adah spies on Axelroot through his windows and hears him laughing with his friends about some kind of poison that will be given to Lumumba to simulate an Africa disease.
Turmoil comes in the night in the form of ants. Leah awakes to find herself being dragged though a burning "sea" that is actually a wave of millions of ants. She reaches the river, half walking, half dragged, when she realizes she has left Adah and Ruth May behind. She sees Anatole who says he will get Adah.
Axelroot is toying with Rachel. He’s like a child who has a secret that only takes on importance according to whether or not he can tell someone and use it to his advantage. He can tell Rachel because she is more like her father than she realizes in her ignorance. She doesn’t really believe that Axelroot is quite as important as he seems to think he is although she does understand that he must have some high level connections. She doesn’t care about the politics of the Congo unless she can use them to get herself home, and she doesn’t really understand the significance of the failed bid for independence or the plot against Lumumba. Axelroot all but tells her his role in the plot, but she is too busy thinking about how to use him to fully grasp the information he is giving her.
Adah, on the other hand, spies on Axelroot and wants to understand the details of what is happening. Her spying is not secret, and he complains to Rachel about it. But Adah doesn’t talk, and Rachel dismisses her behavior as just Adah’s way of communicating. Nevertheless, Adah knows about the plot, including the poison. She returns home in the night and writes the things she has seen and heard.
The invasion of the ants is briefly introduced by Leah. Her first conscious thought is for her sisters; she instantly feels that she has committed some sort of sin by leaving them behind.
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