Study Guide

The Poisonwood Bible Injustice

By Barbara Kingsolver


There are thousands, if not millions of injustices in the world. "I went to go babysit for an hour and the kids didn't know what their own wi-fi password was." "I type so fast that my expensive fake nails keep hitting the wrong keys." "The 'finished' signal on my new washer and dryer are too similar, so when it beeps, I get up to find that my wash load is finished but my dry load still has 10 minutes to go. Useless." Oh, oops. Those aren't injustices. Those are First-World Problems.Ā 

The Poisonwood Bible is full of actual injustices, almost all heaped upon the people of the Congo by the greedy leaders of their own country, and of others, including the United States. These leaders were so hungry for wealth, jewels, and power, they didn't care if millions of people suffered. Now that's injustice.

Questions About Injustice

  1. What injustices do the Prices witness firsthand in Kilanga village?
  2. What is Orleanna's opinion of the Congo's regime change while she lives there? How does it change when she moves back to the U.S.?
  3. What is Leah doing to combat injustice in the Congo? Is she making any progress?
  4. How does the way Rachel runs The Equatorial mimic the United States' treatment of the Congo?

Chew on This

American aid might have actually benefitted the Congo. Instead, the leaders wanted to benefit themselves, and orchestrated events to maximize their own profits, regardless of how many lives were damaged.

Ignoring injustice doesn't make it go away. In fact, the opposite is true. Rachel's "ignorance is bliss" strategy might work for her, but she's repeating many past mistakes.