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Jennifer Lopez

Mr. Janosch

Ap Literature

27 March 2018

Same Gender Roles in Different Societies

In the novel, “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver there are many societal

issues that go on throughout the book. Racism is a huge one, we see how the Prices view the

people of the village as less and different because of their skin color. Another major issue we see

is sexism, sexism lives in both societies, the two societies are, the one the Prices come from, and

the Villagers’ society. Sexism lives in these two societies because of the gender inequality that

exists between man and woman in both the Price family, and in the families of the Congo

village. Women and men in both of these societies are submitted to gender roles, which are rules

that dictate how a person should act according to their gender. These gender rules usually dictate

that a woman's role is to be home and care for her children and husband. While, men are the head

of the family and must be obeyed. ​Both of these societies, no matter how different they are or

how different their beliefs are they both are ruled by gender roles, and inequality between men

and women. This inequality affects many aspects of their societies such as the education,

marriage, and silencing the voices of women, and cutting their wings off.​ All of these aspects are

affected in both the Congo society and in the society the Price family represents.

The societies in the Poisonwood Bible are compared as completely different. The Prices

come from Georgia, U.S a “modern and civilized” society, while the villagers live in Belgian

Congo, in Africa which was considered an “uncivilized” society by most of the rest of the world.
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These differences in the societies are pointed out immediate to the Prices arrival to Congo.

However, there is one major aspect of their societies that are extremely similar, and it is the

inequality that men and women are exposed too.

The gender inequality in both of these societies is similar because they both restrain girls

and women from receiving their education. For example, Nathan Price states, “Sending a girl to

college is like pouring water in your shoes.. It's hard to say which is worse, seeing it run out and

waste the water, or seeing it hold in and wreck the shoes” (Kingsolver, page 56), this shows how

Nathan Price, like many other men from his society believed that girls did not belong in school,

that girls receiving an education was a waste of time and wouldn't be any good. The girls of the

Congo village were in a similar situation, For example on page 126 of the book it states, “ It's

only the boys..Belgians have always had the policy of steering the Congolese boys away from

higher education. Girls too, I guess that goes without saying, because the girls around here, why,

all they ever do is start having their own babies when they're about ten and keep on having

them.” This shows that the Congo society viewed girls and women as baby makers, incapable of

learning or even being taught anything. ​These two examples show how women in both American

and Congo society were viewed as being incapable of attending school and receiving the

education men received. Gender inequality affects both of these societies by creating the idea

that women did not belong in school they instead belonged at home with their children or that

educating women was a waste time.

Another way the Congo society and American society oppressed women was by taking

away their voice, shutting them down and objectifying them. F​or example on page 201 of The

Poisonwood Bible, Orleanna tells the audience how she really feels about her marriage, “I`d
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thought I could have it both ways: to be the one of them and also my husband`s wife. What

conceit! I was his instrument, his animal. Nothing more. How we wives and mothers do perish at

the hands of our own righteousness. I was just one more of those women who clamp their

mouths shut and wave the flag as their nation rolls to conquer another in war.” Orleanna Price

shows how many women feel in their marriage, she didn't feel like Nathan's wife, she felt like his

property, she couldn`t share her opinion, or speak out for herself and her daughters all she could

do was keep quiet and continue with her “house duties”. Orleanna is not the only one in this

place, Mama Mwanza is forced to continue with her “house duties” even though she is disabled,

“she has got to go right on tending after her husband and her seven or eight children. They don't

care one bit about her not having any legs to speak of. To them she's just their mama and where`s

dinner? To all the other Congo people, too” (Kingsolver, pg 78) . ​This shows how Mama

Mwanza is viewed as property, to make food and tend her children and husband and they don`t

care if she is disabled. Both Orleanna and Mama Mwanza are used to tend their families, are

given no voice, and treated like their husbands property, like an object.

More examples of the objectification of women in both societies would be when

Orleanna states, “For time and eternity there have been fathers like Nathan who simply can see

no way to have a daughter bout to own her like a pot of land. To work them plow her under, rain

down a dreadful poison upon her” (Kingsolver,page 191). This shows how women have been

treated like land, property to men and are taught to act like it starting off with their fathers.

Congo women were also objectified, this shown when we read about a Congo man with two

wives, one carries all the children and the other never smiles. This shows how men used women

as objects, to make children, and for their own desire. Also, when Orleanna states, “Nathan was
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in full possession of the country known as Orleanna Wharton. I rested in peach and called it

happiness. Because those days. You see that's how a life like mine was known..I had no wings.

I'd lost my wings” (page 200-201). Orleanna reveals that feels trapped in her marriage and feels

that she no longer has control over her life, instead Nathan, her husband is in control of her life.

Both American and Congo societies had their own way of objectifying women yet making them

feel the same way, like property.

“The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver, speaks out on many issues that have

gone on and continue to in our world. One being sexism, it is an issue that has always existed

from the beginning, we as humans have learned to treat each other differently based on our

gender and have taught others too as well.​ This novel proves that it exists in all societies, it

exists in the American society represented by the Prices, and it existed in the Congo society. Two

places that represented two different worlds but the same view and treatment of women. They

both embraced gender inequality and gender in similar and different ways however, they both

make women feel like property, with no voice, and no wings.

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Works Cited

Kingsolver, Barbara. ​Poisonwood Bible​. Faber & Faber, 2017.

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Standard 4- 8-9 3: 7-5 2:4-3 1: 2-1

Central idea Offers a Offer a Offers a simple Fails to offer a

persuasive reasonable central idea with clear central idea
discussion of the discussion of the little to no of the text.
complex central central idea and a expansion of that
idea of the text brief expansion on idea.
that is founded in that idea in body
evidence and add paragraphs.
complexity to that
idea in each body

Analysis/ Backing Offers a Offers a less Offers a partial, offers little clarity,
convincing thorough or less unconvincing, or organization, or
analysis of the precise discussion irrelevant support for the
strategies being of the strategies analysis, that central idea and
used to convey used to develop may ignore key how it is
the central idea the central idea. aspects of the developed in the
using extended Uses only a story. Provides story.
definitions of the simple definitions very little backing
abstract qualities as backing. for as support.

Evidence Offers apt and Relies on Offers evidence Little to no explicit

specific textual paraphrase or that is slight or evidence used
references to evidence that is misconstrued, or
specific devices in related to the relies on
the paper. central idea. paraphrase only.

Communication Offers consistent These essays The writing often These essays
and effective demonstrate the demonstrates a may contain
control over the student’s ability to lack of control serious errors in
elements of express ideas over the grammar and
composition in clearly, making conventions of mechanics. They
language references to the composition: may offer a
appropriate to the text, although they inadequate complete
analysis. Though do not exhibit the development of misreading or be
they may not be same level of ideas, unacceptably
error-free, these effective writing as accumulation of brief.
essays are the 9–8 papers errors, or a focus
perceptive in their that is unclear,
analysis and inconsistent, or
demonstrate repetitive.
writing that is
clear and

Professionalism Work is completed Work is completed Work is completed Work is completed

on time and fully only one day late 3 days late or not a week late and
complete using or almost meets fully complete. mostly complete
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MLA formatting the page MLA citations are without proper use
requirements and not fully met. of MLA citations.
is written in MLA