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Emily Partrich - Narrative Structure of The Poisonwood Bible - 18 March 2014

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbra Kingsolver is a unique story in itself and

the complex structure of the book reinforces the elaborate plot line. Kingsolver tells the
story through the point of view of ve different narrators which allows readers to have
a limited omniscient point of view throughout the entire novel. This both impedes
and claries the message of the novel and enables readers to interpret the story on
their own as they can observe each characters description of events. She also breaks
the book up into seven different sections, allowing a break in the plot line of the story
and a lengthening of time.
Kingsolvers decision to use a different character to narrate each chapter both
positively and negatively affects the overall message of the book. This narration was
frustrating at times when a certain character would discuss one issue in detail
but the next character would not address the issue at all. It was also confusing
when Kingsolver had each character describe an event but the event was
described differently by all of the characters. For example, many of Rachels
chapters in book three were of her relationship with Axelroot but Adahs chapters
focused on the social aspect of the village and the relationships between the villagers,
two completely different topics. Also, the massive hunt held by the villagers was a
confusing event solely because it was described so differently by each of the
characters. Rachel narrated the whole experience through a frightened, angered tone
while Leah described it using an eager, prideful tone. Although this form of narration can
prove to be quite confusing it does not impede comprehension and it can also be
Reword to
explain why it
is a unique
Reword to
explain how
the narration
readers to
see different
sides to the
same story
Reword to
clarify how the
readers are
able to utilize
the unique
point of view to
delete and
reword these
sentences so
that it is not a
critique but an
analysis of the
narration style
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benecial for the reader. As each character describes their experiences the reader
forms a broader view of the Congo and is able to create their own image of the
Kilanga village and Price family. This type of narration can also be helpful in piecing
together information. For example reading about the village hunt from Rachels
point of view was quite confusing but once Leah described it the reader was able
to understand what was happening.
The division of the novel into seven smaller sections, or books, plays a large role
in the deliverance of Kingsolvers overall message. The rst four books take place in the
Kilanga and are solely about the day-to-day lives of the Price family. This allows for a
message to be clearly evident through the familys daily struggles and triumphs. In
books ve, six, and seven Orleanna and her daughters move out of Kilanga and the
narration skips from being days and weeks apart to being years apart. This makes the
message more difcult to understand and while it does not render the message
incomprehensible, it does skip around so much that the message and underlying
theme become lost in the mass of information and detail given.
The narrative style of The Poisonwood Bible is brilliant. Barbra Kingsolver uses
a different character to narrate each chapter which, while confusing at times, greatly
enhances the readers ability to come to their own conclusions and grasp the overall
message of the novel. The separation of the book into seven sections also proves to
benet, and slightly hinder, the authors message as the time between each chapter
increases towards the end of the novel.
add as they
are able to
obtain a
of events
through the
reword to
include the
image of the
Price family
as fearless
and ignorant
and Kilanga
as curious
Delete or
reword this
sentence - it
feels like it is
just tacked
onto the end
as an
with no
Change this
to a
message of
No critiques.
word choice-
confusing it
was but now
you are
saying it was