I won’t spoil it right away. But seriously, stop :).
Okay, now that those who just read these posts or have read the book are here, I’m going to say it again. I cried. Before we get to why (but I bet you can guess!), let’s talk about that hunt.
Part of me cheered for the ways Leah was differentiating herself from her dad. Another part of me was sad for the ways voting had negatively influenced the tribe taking the time to come to a decision. I also found it humorous that voting–not just in this instance–took an African turn. I’m sure you’ve got examples too of something either you’ve introduced or that culture you’re living in has taken from the outside world and adapted. So, yes, they were voting; but no, they were not voting in the way we might think.
Have any of you been a part of this kind of hunt? Honestly I’ve never participated in any kind of hunting (I did fish with my grandparents when I was a child) and I have friends who are duck hunters. There is a communal nature to hunting, especially in this case when the tribe was starving together. But then there was the fighting over whether Leah had actually killed the antelope or not, which lead to more fighting.
“What was surely the oldest celebration of all, the sharing of plenty, had fallen to ruin in our hands.”
That line could be said for so many situations. Adam and Eve could have murmured it as they left the Garden of Eden. The prophets repeated this message. I love the beauty of the phrase and idea of “the sharing of plenty.” While I know this was an extreme case, I imagine you’ve seen parts of the land where you live “fall to ruin.” In this week where we focus on health, this is about as far from it as you can get. Sadly, the influence of those who came to “bring good news” was anything but.
“Until that moment I’d always believed I could still go home and pretend the Congo never happened. The misery, the hunt, the ants, the embarrassments of all we saw and endured–those were just storied I could tell someday with a laugh and a toss of my hair, when Africa was faraway and make-believe like the people in history books. The tragedies that happened to Africans were not mine. We were different, not just because we were white and had our vaccinations, but because we were simply a much, much luckier kind of person. I would go back home to Bethlehem, Georgia, and be exactly the same Rachel as before. . . . I think Leah and Adah also believed these things, in their own different ways, and that is why none of us moved.”
Though Rachel expressed it in her self-centered way, I can imagine she did think somehow she could shake the dust off of her and move on when her time in Africa was over.
“As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer’s long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn’t touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come float in around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn’t stop.”
Hauntingly beautiful. Later in that chapter, Orleanna talks about how women like her live in the middle ground, not the beginnings or the endings. What do you think of that idea?
I say this every week, but this is getting long (this is just so rich!), so I’m going to bullet point my thoughts on the rest of this section:
- Why didn’t Axelroot rescue all of the females? Why only Rachel and not come back for the rest (and if it’s because Leah was sick, why not wait until she was well)? This way this family fell apart spiritually and relationally from each other was heart breaking.
- Still some great Rachelism: all the teeth in China and we Christians have our own system of marriage, and it is called Monotony.
- When Orleanna and Adah left it made me think of Naomi and Ruth. Naomi left Israel with a full family and returned with a shattered one and calling herself “Bitterness.”
- “It is impossible to describe the shock of return.” Adah.
- “The conditions of his [Nathan’s] discharge were technically honorable, but unofficially they were: Cowardice, Guilt, and Disgrace. The Reverend the sole survivor in a company of dead men who have marched along beside him all his life since then. No wonder he could not flee from the same jungle twice.” I have more compassion for Nathan this time than I did the first time I read it, but still to abandon his whole family…
- Adah is so clever! Carry, Marry, Ferry, Bury
- And what about Adah not needing to limp? Makes me wonder what I have unintentionally adapted into the ways I see and define myself that simply are not true.
Your turn! What have you been noticing and enjoying (or being super frustrated over)? We’re rounding the corner and I’m a bit sad we only have one more week. Can’t wait to chat in the comments :)!
P.S. Here’s the reading plan for The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver:
July 7 — Roughly 40% (or 220 pages) — includes the chapter titled Adah and which with the line “God works …”
July 14 — Roughly 60% (or 330 pages) — includes the chapter titled Leah which begins with the line “You can’t …”
July 21 — Roughly 80% (or 440 pages) — includes the chapter titled Adah Price, Emory Hospital, Atlanta, Christmas 1968
July 28 — Roughly 100% (or 543 blessed pages!)
Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.