Barton 1

Tyler Barton
Mrs. Carter
AP Lit and Comp
3/6/14
Narrative Structure
The poisonwood bible is broken up into many different points of view of each
female family member sharing a unique perspective of their struggles in the Congo..
The novel also does not have a literary protagonist like most. It also takes place in the
struggle of the Congo, meaning the price family is with little help from the outside world.
The ability to see each female’s interoperation of Nathan allows us as readers to
form a more full understanding of Nathan. Each female describes or views their dad or
husband slightly differently and these views change throughout. Each perspective
allows the reader to build on what each character shares to form a more developed plot
as well as gather multiple views of each character. This unusual structure of writing
allows for many different points of views but also creates some repetition the
progression of the plot as well as a back and forth feeling of time.
Most novels have one or two lead characters that guide the reader through the
story but unlike traditionally structured novels The Posioinwood Bible chooses to narrate
through the female voices and thoughts. This loss in protagonist make it hard to know
which voice to really base your opinion on. As well as creates an interesting ability to
choose a character you seem to connect with most and can relate to. This different
structure of writing drew some readers in but at the same time made it harder for some
to follow.
Barton 2
The Congo is now a normal run area of Africa but back in the setting of the book
the Congo was very unstable. This setting puts a large amount of strain on each of the
characters but also is the bases of the plot. This conflict brewing in the Congo is the
only thing preventing Nathan and the rest of the Price family to continue their mission of
converting the Congo. This inevitable danger doesn’t seem to bother Nathan as he
appears willing to die before leaving this dangerous area. Although in the presence of
danger the story’s plot is for the most part anti-climactic and proves mostly just to tell a
story of this family.
These elements of The Poisonwood Bible’s structure provide for a unique
reading experience; though, some more appealing to certain types of readers than
others. The multiple perspectives from each character, the lack of one individual main
character, and the threat in the Congo all make this novel unique in its form.

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