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Literature Study GuidesThe Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible | Study Guide

Barbara Kingsolver

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Course Hero. "The Poisonwood Bible Study Guide." November 10, 2017. Accessed June 5, 2023.


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Barbara Kingsolver

Year Published





Drama, Historical Fiction

Perspective and Narrator

Most of the The Poisonwood Bible is narrated from the first-person perspective of one or another of the five women in the Price family―excluding the voices of male characters altogether.


The Poisonwood Bible is written mostly in the past tense, with some segments in the present tense.

About the Title

The title The Poisonwood Bible links the setting of Africa with the Christian missionary family, the Prices, on whom the text focuses. Poisonwood is a type of tree that grows in Africa, and elsewhere, and causes discomfort and illness to people who handle it. Preacher Nathan Price uses a native phrase to mean "Jesus is precious": "Tata Jesus is bangala!" However, the Congolese understand the phrase to mean "Jesus is poisonwood" because of the way the missionaries and their Jesus hurt the native way of life through colonization. The meanings are opposite but both true to different audiences. Late in the book, Adah, one of Nathan's daughters, refers to his "poisonwood bible," a reference to this duality of language.


This study guide and infographic for Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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