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Comparing two main characters from the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - Essay Example

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Comparing two main characters from the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Rachel was an eldest daughter of the Price family, and the most unlikely person in the world who can bear with Africa. Incidentally, she happens to remain in the South Africa, successfully running a luxurious hotel, the Equatorial. However, she with several failed marriages was a disillusioned person. Rachel is the youngest of the wise sisters. Leah decides to live in Angola. She has her own humble family with a well-educated black man, called Anatole. Moreover, along with this, she spends her days, devoting her whole life for the needs of the native people; and her family in Africa.
Though Rachel and Leah were of the same parents, and shared their childhoods together, they have different personalities and values. In addition, their approaches to overcome various hardships when they were young are dramatically different. Some of the extreme situations show Rachel as a person chasing her selfish and materialistic goal, with her superficial scope of thoughts. Leah, on the other hand was a model of what people ought to be. This gradually shapes Leah's life into a meaningful one, whereas Rachel lives a meaningless life.
The beginning of the book depicts the arrival of the Price family to Congo. The way, Rachel and Leah respond to this new environment and their efforts to understand the new cultures are quite different. They are poles apart in the personalities and their perspectives of life are different from each other. Throughout their lives, they show different attitude to the issues, they encounter. Rachel, as a closed-minded newcomer, avoids the Congolese and their culture. She constantly complains about the discomforts she meets here. Her first words uttered in Congo demonstrate her closed-mindedness. "Hey, Ade, Leah, isn't you glad you use Dial Don't you wish everybody did" (26). Although she definitely knows that Congo is not like North America, and is a less civilized, she cannot help saying these impolite words. This proves her immaturity. Rachel's selfishness is highlighted in the event of the invasion of flesh-eating ants. In the middle of the chaos, she worries about,
one precious thing. Something from home. Not [her] clothes, there wasn't time, and not the Bible - it didn't seem worth saving at that moment. It had to be [her] mirror .Her idiotic but knowing selfishness does not stop: in the running crowd, she immediately recalls "something she'd read once: if ever you're in a crowded theater and there's a fire, you should stick out your elbows and raise up your feet" and as consequence, she "stuck [her] elbows very hard into the ribs of the people who were crushing in around [her], and kind of wedged [herself] in" and " picked up [her] feet" (363).

As an eldest of four girls, Rachel should have at least worried about her younger sisters. Instead, she chooses to worry about her mirror and decides to use other people's power to move her body along to the safe place. From these instances, a reader can conclude that Rachel's personality is immature, selfish, and superficial.

Leah, in contrast shows extremely different attitude toward the new environment and her personality is clearly differs from that of Rachel. Leah is opened-minded and respects the new culture. Soon after the Price family settles in the Congo, Leah makes a friend for the first time. She describes her friend Pascal to her family as "[her] nkundi: [her] first real ...Show more


Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian writer opines, "People go to Africa and confirm what they already have in their heads and so they fail to see what is there in front of them." The main characters of the novel The Poisonwood Bible, would be absolutely one of those people visiting Africa…
Author : czemlak
Comparing two main characters from the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
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