English 10 H
1 April 2008
The Loss of Faith in Old Beliefs in The Poisonwood Bible and White Teeth
“I only had time to save one precious thing. […] Not my clothes, there wasn’t enough time and not the Bible – it didn’t seem worth saving at the moment” (Kingsolver 301). Rachel Price, a character in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, is losing her faith in the Christian religion. In a time of crisis, she did not stop to save the Bible, which she was taught to would offer her salvation, because she no longer had faith in it. The loss of faith in old beliefs resulting from exposure to a new culture is a theme common to both Kingsolver’s novel and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. In the Poisonwood Bible, the Price children lose their faith in their Christian religion when many of their beliefs are contradicted during their stay in the Congo. In White Teeth, the Iqbul and Jones children are exposed and attracted to contemporary Western culture. The result of the character’s loss of faith is alienation and a desire to hold a position in society that is controversial to their former faith.
The loss of faith the characters endure is catalyzed by the contradictions to the faiths they witness when exposed to a new culture. In The Poisonwood Bible, Nathan Price, the father of Rachel and her three other sisters, is a Baptist missionary who constantly preaches ideas about God’s work and his plans. As soon as he arrives in the Congo, he starts digging and planting a garden because he always preaches that it was God’s own will that man cultivate the soil. However, the next morning he yells at his wife, “ ‘Ow! Great God almighty, Orleanna. How did this curse come to me, when it is God’s will to cultivate the soil’” (41). Nathan Price is screaming at Orleanna Price, asking her why he had a rash, welted skin with yellow pus dripping from it, and his right eye swollen shut. He is asking why he was being punished by God if he was...