Study Guide

The Poisonwood Bible Man and the Natural World

By Barbara Kingsolver

Man and the Natural World

When you have to drive thirty miles to find a park and get in touch with nature, it's easy to forget that all the modern conveniences we live with—grocery stores, indoor plumbing, the Internet—are just that: conveniences. People lived without them for millennia, and in some parts of the world, they still do. (Okay, to be fair, indoor plumbing is also responsible for saving a lot of lives.)

The 1960s wasn't quite the technology boom of the 21st-century, but it was an era of convenience. Heck, it was an era of convenience stores. As a result, the Price girls have a particularly difficult time living in the Congo. But at the end of The Poisonwood Bible, they seem to have learned that you don't need all these things. Well, some of them. We're pretty sure Rachel never gets the memo.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why does Rachel find the big Kilanga hunt (the one Leah participates in) to be so barbaric, even though she eats the meat right along with the rest of them?
  2. How does Ruth May blend in with the children of Kilanga village?
  3. In what ways does Orleanna bring the natural world of Africa back to the United States with her?

Chew on This

If we have one positive thing to say about Nathan Price (and we're not sure we do), it's that he never once complains about being without modern American conveniences. Of course, his wife and daughters are doing everything for him. But still.

The Congolese children are much more adept at survival in the jungle than the Price girls are because they've had to live it since Day 1. If Congolese parents "protected" their children from the natural world, they'd die in about two minutes the first time they ventured out on their own.