Study Guide

The Poisonwood Bible Tough-o-Meter

By Barbara Kingsolver


(5) Tree Line

The Poisonwood Bible can be a tough read. Like any trip into the jungle, it's easier if you come prepared. We've got a quick checklist for you to make this journey go smoothly.

  1. Some of the voices are a bit harder to understand than others, like Adah's with her sing-song rhyme-y way of writing and her backwards sentences, or Ruth May and her childlike messing up of words. It can be easy to miss exactly what they're talking about. Until you get to know them better, follow along with our summaries if you're having trouble.
  2. Unless you've majored in Congolese history, it can be easy to get all the names of the historical figures mixed up. Patrice Lumumba and Joseph Mobutu are the two you need to remember, but for a more detailed history of the Congo, you might want to check out this history of the Congo.
  3. Finally, don't get hung up in Congolese pronunciation (unless you're actually going to the Congo, where pronunciation is a huge deal). Just have fun learning the different definitions of the words.

So, good luck! Don't be like the Price family. Know what you're getting yourself into. And watch your step: green mamba snakes can hide where you least expect it.