Study Guide

The Poisonwood Bible Guilt and Blame

By Barbara Kingsolver

Guilt and Blame

Some things get unfair blame. The rain. Canada. When it comes to The Poisonwood Bible, we're not sure who goes in the fair blame or the unfair blame category. Nathan Price seems to blame women for all his problems. Orleanna and Rachel blame him. And Leah blames herself for just about everything. Why all this blame? Well, they're all consumed with guilt—every last Price family member. (And they're not even Catholic.)

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. Why is Leah consumed with guilt about everything (Adah's disability, Ruth May's death, just to name a few)? How is she motivated by guilt?
  2. What, if anything, does Nathan feel guilty about? Why does he blame his wife and daughters for everything?
  3. Does Rachel feel guilty about anything?

Chew on This

Orleanna spends a lot of time in each of her prologues trying to absolve herself of any blame for what happened in the Congo, because she feels guilty for letting it happen.

It's impossible to place blame for any of the events in the book, because it's impossible to tell where it all started. Did it start when the family went to the Congo? When Nathan married Orleanna? When whites started trying to control the Congo? The chain of blame goes back for centuries.