English and Modern Languages


Master of Arts (MA)


Matthew Towles


Barbara Kingsolver, Hybridity, Narrative Theory, Poisonwood, Postcolonialism


English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Literature in English, North America


Barbara Kingsolver’s novel "The Poisonwood Bible" follows the fictional Price family as they embark as missionaries to the Belgian Congo in 1959. With the intent to evangelize to the native people in a remote tribe, the family is shocked at the resistance to their outside culture. Narrated by the four daughters (and occasionally their mother), "The Poisonwood Bible" gives a unique look into the shifting perspectives of the Price women. Thrust into a foreign culture, they quickly learn that in order to survive, they must adapt to the native society. Utilizing Gerard Genette’s theories on narration and perspective as a lens to view individual growth, the adaptation to Africa is charted within each of the narrators. The manner in which the characters shift reflects Homi Bhabha’s theory of hybridity, mainly the idea that colonizing cultures cannot alter a native culture without adapting themselves. This principle of hybridity is looked at on an individual level and revealed through the personal narration of the Price women throughout the novel.