Alienation In The Poisonwood Bible

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In The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver creates a character Orleanna Price who was semi-voluntarily exiled to the Congo. She was exiled from a happy life due to her marriage to Nathan Price, she was exiled from both America and Americans when she moved to the Congo, and she was exiled from her family when her youngest daughter died. With each exile, Orleanna’s personality is enriched by the things she learns during that exile, and Orleanna finds herself alienated from the people and lifestyle she used to have before each exile. In the first exile, Orleanna’s personality is enriched from the general life lessons she learns with the experience of age. During that exile, she is alienated from everyone she meets if they meet, have met, or even…show more content…
This exile is not noted until immediately after Nathan prevents the family from returning to America. Before that point, if they had gone home the entire trip to the Congo would be considered an interesting vacation that could be forgotten eventually. There would be no exile from America or alienation from friends and community if they had left the Congo when it was originally planned for them to leave. Not only are the Price girls prevented from returning to America by Nathan, but when finally ignoring the block of Nathan and returning to America the few Prices who made it back were beheld as outcasts. When Orleanna reached her hometown of Bethlehem, Georgia with Adah, the Americans viewed Orleanna as the weird lady and town crazy. While the residents of the town were interested in news from outside the local area, they remained certain that Orleanna was no longer a “normal” person. Kingsolver shows a bit of all of that in the text before and immediately around “...my barefoot mother glaring at the ocean.”(637) People living in American cities generally don’t walk around outside barefoot if they have the choice. This expands on the meaning of the novel by showing how judgemental Americans can be over appearances. This further expands on the meaning by showing the contrast of how little the Congolese care for others’ appearances when compared to the American view. The Congolese shared their view on appearances near the beginning of the novel when describing Mama Mwanza and Mama Nguza. The Americans think Orleanna became tainted while she was in the Congo. Even though Orleanna used to live in Bethlehem, the other residents of the town don’t view her the same way as they did before she went to the Congo. Adah even commented on their reception: “...welcome home the pitiful Prices! The astonishing, the bereft, bizarre, and homeless (for we could no longer live in a parsonage without a parson), tainted by darkest Africa and probably heathen,
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