Study Guide

The Poisonwood Bible Book 4, Chapter 1

By Barbara Kingsolver

Book 4, Chapter 1


  • So this one day, the villagers of Kilanga held an election. Not for a leader. At least, not a physical one at least. They're voting "whether or not to accept Jesus Christ as the personal Saviour of Kilanga" (4.1.2).
  • It all happened on the day Father was preaching about the Apocrypha, particularly the book Bel and the Serpent (or Dragon, depending on your translation. Serpent seems more fitting for a Congo full of snakes, doesn't it?).
  • In the middle of the story, Tata Ndu stands up and announces the vote. Jars are put down, everyone grabs their rock, and prepares to get their vote on.
  • Father tries to tell him that "elections are good, and Christianity is good. […] But we make our decisions about them in different houses" (4.1.32).
  • Tata Ndu says they can use the same house for different things in Kilanga. Bee tee dubs, he's sick of Father treating the Congolese like children. They've had over 122 chiefs making decisions without white help, thank you very much.
  • Everyone votes, but the only Price to vote is Ruth May who casts her stone for Jesus.
  • After the dust clears, "Jesus Christ lost, eleven to fifty-six" (4.1.44).