Ethnocentrism in The Poisonwood Bible

Examines symbols of ethnocentrism in this novel by Barbara Kingsolver.

?We aimed for no more than to have dominion over every creature that moved upon the earth.? These words, spoken by Orleanna Price, wife of missionary Nathan Price, serves as a precise outlook on the ?unmissionary? view of ethnocentrism in Barbara Kingsolver?s “The Poisonwood Bible”. The paper shows that, throughout the novel, Kingsolver emphasizes the rampant ethnocentrism that occurred from 1959 through the early 1960s in the Congo. Ethnocentrism reflects the belief that one?s culture is superior to all other cultures and that their culture is the only culture to live by. The paper shows how the character of Nathan Price, Methuselah, the Parrot, and Nathan?s demonstration garden are all symbolic and supportive of the novel?s central theme of ethnocentrism.
“Methuselah, the Parrot, is symbolic of the doomed Republic of Congo, as the vulnerable nation is predated by the U.S. in its ethnocentric efforts to “right the wrongs” of the elected government of the Congo. Methuselah is denied freedom for most of his life, and while he is kept in a cage and fed by humans, he loses the ability to fend for himself. Even after Nathan sets him free, Methuselah continues to stay close to the house he has been accustomed to, dependent on humans for food, also sleeping in their latrine at night, for fear of predators. Inevitably, Methuselah is caught by a cat and killed.”