Feminism in the Poisonwood Bible

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In The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, the feministic style has been described through the Prince family, where it is composed of five females to one male, and manages to adequately demonstrate the personality contradictions between the five women, hence creating an ideal material to use in analysis of feminism. During that, the values of gender equality are greatly described emphasizing of the roles of women as to men. However, Nathan who is the lone man of the Central Price family shows authority in his own family of four daughters and his wife (Kingsolver 10). He doesn’t think of much value of them and over dominates them in spite of his religious values and up comings. In the village of Kilanga in Congo, where the Price’s women resided was much more accepting of women having the larger role in the society as compared to men despite being considered backward by the family.

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Feminism is described here in order to be aware of the nature of gender inequality in the society. With Nathan as a husband, he shows that he holds more power in his household for he is controlling. This is because he views the women around him as inferior and believes in male superiority (Kingsolver 34). However, his opinions are not contradictive to the story because he is viewed as a two-faced and ugly man whose sexist beliefs only provide to stress his despicable characters.

In Kilanga despite the harsh and hostile environment, it allows women to embrace important roles. These women still embraced their maternal roles of housekeeping and childbearing but their contributions in other activities were appreciated as much as the men were. Leah (Rachel’s sister) wishes to become a hunter and even though she manages to purses it, the chief’s son is still in denial that she can do it, and calls her nkento meaning woman. Nelson who is Leah’s friend shows support and encourages her but it’s only that and not because he believes a woman can be a hunter.

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Leah stuck out to be the strongest female in the Price family, unlike the other sisters who only adhered to the feministic stereotypes. Rachel grew to be a dedicated wife and rich widow while Adah and Ruth do not really contribute to their genders for they were considered genius cripple an innocent child respectively also outcasts.

Leah was not willing to remain in female roles that she considered useless and lifeless, so she struggled to assimilate herself into the manly roles, hunting (Kingsolver 17). In The Poisonwood Bible, the Price women are all used to emphasise the themes of stereotypes and gender inequality but Leah is the only one who overpowers the domination.

Through the book The Poisonwood Bible, the message of equality between men and women, accepting of different values and cultures also learning to accept these values clearly cannot be disregarded. The traditional restrictions on woman and Nathan’s sexist views are seen as unreasonable and baseless and Leah tries to cut through these. She is the champion in the book and the message she holds is that women and men can be equal and gender should not be a stumbling block to any moral values.

Kingsolver Barbara in his book emphasized on these women to show the oppression they faced in such societies as the African Congo, male supremacy and how they rise above.

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  1. Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible. 1998. Harper Collins, New York, NY. Print.
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