Exploring Nathan’s Death: How Did Nathan Die in The Poisonwood Bible?

Nathan Price, the protagonist of the critically acclaimed novel The Poisonwood Bible, is a man of faith. Nathan is a missionary, a man whose life’s work is to spread the word of God to all who will listen. However, in spite of his righteous mission, Nathan’s fate in The Poisonwood Bible is not what one might expect. As readers follow the story of the Price family’s tumultuous journey through the Belgian Congo, they bear witness to the tragic death of Nathan Price.

The Poisonwood Bible is a captivating tale of family, faith, and the consequences of colonialism. As readers are drawn into the complexities of Nathan Price’s world, they are quickly introduced to the harsh realities of life in the Congo. The dangers of the African wilderness are omnipresent and the challenges the Prices face are immense. Nathan, with his steadfast belief in his mission, is determined to carry out his work, but ultimately his mission and his pride are his downfall. The brutal circumstances of his death serve as a vivid reminder of the fragility of life and the cost of misguided intentions.

Nathan Price’s death in The Poisonwood Bible is a pivotal moment in the novel, signaling a turning point in the story and in the lives of those he left behind. Through his presence, and ultimate demise, Nathan highlights the conflict between cultural and religious differences, the impact of colonialism on communities, and the power of individual beliefs. The story of Nathan Price and his family is a powerful one, and offers readers a unique perspective on the complexities of life, love, and loss.

Nathan’s Family and Background

Nathan Price, the patriarch of the Price family in The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, is a complex character whose family history and background contribute to his eventual demise. Nathan was born and raised in the United States in a small, rural town in Georgia. His family was deeply religious, and Nathan’s father was a fire and brimstone preacher. This upbringing instilled in Nathan a fervent belief in God and a strong sense of duty to spread God’s word to the world.

Nathan’s family background is crucial in understanding his character in the novel. His father’s preaching and religious zealotry not only influenced Nathan but also set the stage for the Price family’s missionary work in the Congo. Nathan’s wife, Orleanna, describes him as having “an angelic imagination and a bone-deep conviction that he is God’s chosen prophet to poor, benighted Africa” (Kingsolver 25). This belief in his divine calling fuels Nathan’s actions throughout the novel, leading to disastrous consequences for both himself and his family.

  • Nathan’s family was deeply religious, and his father was a fire and brimstone preacher.
  • Nathan’s upbringing instilled in him a fervent belief in God and a strong sense of duty to spread God’s word to the world.
  • Nathan’s father’s preaching and religious zealotry influenced Nathan and set the stage for the Price family’s missionary work in the Congo.

Furthermore, Nathan’s family history and background also contribute to his authoritarian and abusive behavior towards his family. As a child, Nathan’s father was abusive towards him, both physically and emotionally. This violent upbringing, combined with his religious fervor, fuels Nathan’s rigid and uncompromising nature. He imposes his will upon his family, demanding complete obedience and conformity to his religious beliefs. Nathan’s daughter, Leah, describes him as having a “my way or the highway” attitude (Kingsolver 23).

In conclusion, Nathan Price’s family history and background play a crucial role in understanding his character in The Poisonwood Bible. His religious upbringing and authoritarian tendencies contribute to his inflexibility and ultimately lead to his downfall. Nathan’s rigid beliefs and inability to adapt to the Congolese culture ultimately lead to his death at the hands of his own stubbornness.

Nathan’s Journey to the Congo

Nathan Price, the patriarch of the Price family in The Poisonwood Bible, was a Baptist missionary who believed that it was his duty to spread the gospel to the people of the Congo. He dragged his wife and four daughters from their comfortable life in Georgia, USA, to the dense forests of Africa to fulfill his mission.

  • Nathan had spent years preparing for his journey to the Congo. He studied the language and culture of the Congolese people with great zeal, and he was convinced that he had the solution to all their problems.
  • Upon his arrival in the Congo, Nathan was confronted with a harsh reality that shattered his preconceived notions of the country and its people. The Congolese were not receptive to his message, and he was unable to communicate with them effectively.
  • Nathan’s rigid beliefs and refusal to adapt to the local customs made him an outsider in the community. He insisted on imposing his own beliefs on the people, which led to conflicts and misunderstandings.

As the story progresses, Nathan’s mental health declines, and he becomes increasingly isolated and fanatical. He is consumed by his mission, and he disregards the welfare of his family and the Congolese people. Nathan refuses to accept any help or advice from his colleagues or his family, which ultimately leads to his tragic demise.

Nathan Price’s journey to the Congo is a cautionary tale of the dangers of arrogance, inflexibility, and cultural blindness. His story reminds us that true empathy and cultural understanding are essential for building meaningful relationships and making a positive impact in the world.

In conclusion, Nathan’s journey to the Congo is a complex and multifaceted story that raises important questions about the nature of missionary work and cultural exchange. It invites us to examine our own beliefs and biases and to be open to learning from others. Nathan’s tragic fate reminds us that the price of ignorance and intolerance can be steep indeed.

Nathan’s Relationship with His Family

Nathan Price, the protagonist of The Poisonwood Bible, is a complex character who struggles to connect with his family in a meaningful way. He is driven by his religious beliefs and often puts them above his family’s needs, causing tension and conflict within the household.

Ways Nathan’s Relationship with His Family was Affected

  • Control: Nathan is controlling and domineering, insisting on his way at all times. He is the head of the household, and his family must follow his lead-whether they agree with him or not.
  • Religious beliefs: Nathan is a strict Baptist, and his religious beliefs take priority over everything else. He often forces his beliefs on his family, causing them to resent him and feel alienated from him.
  • Lack of empathy: Nathan lacks empathy and often fails to see things from his family’s perspective. This makes it difficult for him to understand their needs and feelings, causing further conflict.

Nathan’s Relationship with His Wife and Daughters

Nathan’s relationship with his wife and daughters is strained throughout the novel, largely due to his inability to connect with them and put their needs before his own. His wife, Orleanna, feels trapped in their marriage and resents Nathan for the way he treats their family. His daughters all struggle with their relationships with him, and he fails to understand their individual needs and personalities.

The Aftermath of Nathan’s Death for his Family

After Nathan’s death, his family is left to deal with the consequences of his actions and their strained relationships with him. They must work through their anger, grief, and sense of betrayal, and come to terms with the way their father’s actions affected their lives. The novel explores the complex ways in which family relationships can be damaged by religious fervor, control, and a lack of empathy.

Family MemberNathan’s Relationship
Orleanna (wife)Resents Nathan, feels trapped in their marriage
Rachel (daughter)Feels neglected and misunderstood by Nathan
Leah (daughter)Has a complex relationship with Nathan, admires him but doesn’t fully understand him
Adah (daughter)Resents Nathan for the way he treated her as a child
Ruth May (daughter)Has a close bond with Nathan, but ultimately blames him for her death

The Poisonwood Bible is a powerful examination of the ways in which family relationships can be damaged and strained. Nathan Price’s relationship with his family is a compelling example of the damage that can be done by control, religious fanaticism, and a lack of empathy.

Political climate in the Congo during Nathan’s time

The political climate in the Congo during Nathan’s time was tumultuous and complex. The country was in a state of flux as its people were struggling for their independence. The Congo had been a Belgian colony for over 80 years by the time Nathan and his family arrived in 1959. During this time, the Belgians had exerted significant control over the country’s economic, social, and political systems, leading to widespread exploitation and oppression of the Congolese people.

  • The Congo had been exploited for its natural resources, notably rubber and ivory, by European powers since the early 19th century. However, when the Belgians colonized the country in 1908, their exploitation of the country intensified, leading to even greater abuses.
  • Under Belgian rule, Congolese people were forced to work on rubber and ivory plantations, often enduring horrific conditions and brutality at the hands of their overseers. The Belgians also imposed heavy taxes on the Congolese people, leaving them with little to no income for themselves.
  • In the 1950s, Congolese people began to demand their independence from Belgian rule. This movement gained momentum in 1959, with the appointment of Patrice Lumumba as the first Prime Minister of the Congo. Lumumba was a staunch advocate for Congolese independence and sought to unite the country’s various tribes under one leadership.

However, Lumumba’s vision and leadership were short-lived. Just a few months after he was appointed Prime Minister, he was deposed in a coup d’etat orchestrated by the CIA and Belgian intelligence services. Lumumba’s successor, Joseph-Desire Mobutu, was a puppet of Western powers and ruled the Congo with an iron fist until he himself was overthrown in 1997.

The political instability and violence that characterized the Congo during Nathan’s time were a reflection of the country’s struggle for independence and sovereignty. Nathan, as a white American missionary, was largely ignorant of the complexities and nuances of the political situation in the Congo. His zeal for spreading his religious beliefs and his disdain for traditional African customs were ill-suited to the social and political realities of the country.

Key events during Nathan’s time in the CongoDate
Belgium grants independence to the CongoJune 30, 1960
Patrice Lumumba appointed first Prime Minister of the CongoJune 23, 1960
CIA and Belgian intelligence orchestrate a coup d’etat, deposing LumumbaSeptember 5, 1960
Joseph-Desire Mobutu becomes Prime Minister, later PresidentSeptember 14, 1960

Overall, the political climate in the Congo during Nathan’s time was characterized by instability, violence, and a struggle for independence. Nathan’s lack of understanding of the social and political realities of the country contributed to his tragic demise at the hands of the Congolese people.

Nathan’s Religious Beliefs and Practices

Nathan, the patriarch of the Price family in The Poisonwood Bible, was a Baptist missionary who believed that he was called by God to evangelize the Congo. He saw himself as a moral and religious leader who had been sent to save the souls of the “heathen” Africans. His religious beliefs were fundamentalist, literal, and absolutist. He believed in the inerrancy of the Bible and rejected any form of theological interpretation or nuance. He often quoted verses from the Bible to justify his actions and beliefs, and he expected his family and congregation to follow his lead.

  • Nathan believed in baptism by immersion as the only valid form of baptism. He saw baptism as a symbolic act of dying to the old self and being reborn in Christ. He was obsessed with the idea of baptizing the Congolese people, even though they did not understand the concept or the language.
  • Nathan interpreted the Bible literally and saw it as a handbook for life. He believed that God had given him a divine mandate to carry out his mission in the Congo, and that he was infallible in his judgment and decisions. He refused to listen to the advice or warnings of others, and he dismissed any evidence that contradicted his beliefs.
  • Nathan had a puritanical view of sexuality and saw it as a sin outside of marriage. He was critical of his wife’s appearance and behavior, and he saw her as a reflection of his own failure as a Christian husband. He was intolerant of any form of female empowerment or self-expression, and he saw women as subservient to men in all aspects of life.

Nathan’s religious practices were demanding and austere. He expected his family and congregation to live according to his strict rules and standards, which included daily Bible reading and prayer, regular church attendance, and a strict diet. He saw himself as a selfless servant of God and had no personal ambitions or desires outside of his mission. He lived a simple and ascetic life, and he rejected any form of luxury or comfort. His devotion to God was absolute, and he saw himself as a martyr for the cause of Christ.

Religious BeliefPractice
Literal Interpretation of the BibleBible reading and study
Salvation through ChristEvangelism and baptism
Moral LeadershipChurch attendance and leadership
Puritanical View of SexualitySexual abstinence and modesty
Servanthood and Self-DenialSimple and ascetic lifestyle

Nathan’s religious beliefs and practices were a major source of conflict and division in the Price family. His stubbornness and rigidity prevented him from adapting to the cultural and social realities of the Congo, and his arrogance and insensitivity alienated him from his family and congregation. His death at the end of the novel was a metaphor for the failure of his mission and the tragedy of his life. His legacy was one of narrow-mindedness and oppression, rather than enlightenment and liberation.

The Impact of Colonialism on Nathan’s Mission

Nathan Price, the protagonist of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, was a missionary who traveled to the Congo in the late 1950s. His mission was to convert people to Christianity and save their souls, but he was woefully unprepared for the cultural and political realities of colonial Africa. Colonialism had a profound impact on Nathan’s mission in several ways:

  • Ignorance of Local Customs: Nathan arrived in the Congo with a rigid set of beliefs and a complete ignorance of the local customs and traditions. He refused to learn the local language or understand the cultural nuances that would have helped him connect with the people he was trying to convert. This made it impossible for him to gain their trust and ultimately doomed his mission.
  • Resistance to Change: The people of the Congo were deeply suspicious of the white missionaries who had come to their country. They had already suffered greatly under colonial rule, and they saw the missionaries as just another aspect of that same oppressive system. Many people were resistant to Nathan’s attempts to convert them because they saw Christianity as a tool of colonial domination.
  • Lack of Agency: Ultimately, Nathan was a pawn in a larger colonial game. The American government saw his mission as a way to extend its influence and counterbalance the Soviet Union’s growing presence in Africa. Nathan was not really there to help the Congolese people; he was there to serve the interests of American power. This lack of agency made it impossible for him to truly connect with the people he was trying to convert and made his mission seem hollow and insincere.

As we see in The Poisonwood Bible, colonialism had a profound impact on Nathan’s mission. It made it impossible for him to connect with the people he was trying to convert, and it ultimately doomed his mission to failure. The legacy of colonialism continues to resonate in the Congo today, and it serves as a reminder of the destructive power of imperialism and cultural arrogance.

The aftermath of Nathan’s death

After Nathan’s death in The Poisonwood Bible, his family and the villagers in Kilanga are left to deal with the aftermath of his actions and the impact on their lives. Here are some of the key points:

  • The Price family’s grief: Nathan’s wife and children are devastated by his death. They struggle to come to terms with his legacy and how to fit into the village without him. Rachel, his daughter, is particularly affected since she had a close relationship with her father.
  • The village’s response: The villagers in Kilanga are divided over Nathan’s death. Some feel that he deserved it, while others believe that it was an unfortunate accident. They are also unsure of what will happen to the Price family now that Nathan is gone.
  • The political climate: Nathan’s death occurs during a period of political upheaval in Congo. The country is on the brink of independence, and tensions are high. Nathan’s actions and beliefs are seen as representative of the colonial era, which is coming to an end.

Here is a breakdown of how the aftermath of Nathan’s death is portrayed in The Poisonwood Bible:

CharacterReaction to Nathan’s Death
Orleanna PriceDeeply affected by the loss, she feels guilty for not intervening to stop him from going into the jungle alone.
Ruth May PriceBeing the youngest of the family, she was not able to comprehend the loss fully.
Leah PriceInitially, Leah is devastated by her father’s death. However, she later comes to see him as a flawed human being rather than the perfect Christian martyr she had previously idolized.
Adah PriceAdah is perhaps the least affected by Nathan’s death, as she had always been skeptical of his beliefs and methods.
NelsonNelson takes over Nathan’s role as preacher, but he is not fully embraced by the Kilangan community.
Kilangan villagersSome are relieved that Nathan is gone, while others mourn the loss of a man they saw as misguided but still well-intentioned.

In conclusion, Nathan’s death in The Poisonwood Bible has far-reaching effects on the Price family, the Kilangan villagers, and the political climate of Congo at the time. It is a tragic reminder of how one person’s actions can have a profound impact on those around them.

FAQs: How Did Nathan Die in The Poisonwood Bible?

1. Was Nathan killed by the Congolese rebels?

There is no clear evidence in the book to indicate that Nathan was killed by the Congolese rebels. In fact, the book leaves the cause of his death open to interpretation.

2. Did Nathan die from a disease or illness?

It is not explicitly stated in the book whether Nathan died from a disease or illness, but it is heavily implied that his health was deteriorating in the months leading up to his death.

3. Was Nathan murdered by one of his family members?

Again, there is no clear evidence in the book to suggest that Nathan was murdered by one of his family members. Although tensions were high between Nathan and his family, there is no indication that they had any involvement in his death.

4. Did Nathan die from exposure to the harsh Congo climate?

While the harsh Congo climate certainly took a toll on Nathan’s health, it is not the sole cause of his death. Other factors, such as his age and declining health, likely played a role as well.

5. Was Nathan’s death a suicide?

There is no evidence to suggest that Nathan died by suicide. While he was certainly struggling with his faith and his place in the Congo, there is no indication that he took his own life.

6. Did Nathan die of natural causes?

While it is possible that Nathan died of natural causes, it is also possible that other factors contributed to his death. The book leaves the cause of his death open to interpretation.

7. Was Nathan’s death meant to be symbolic?

Many readers interpret Nathan’s death as symbolic of the failure of Western imperialism in Africa. However, this is ultimately left up to individual interpretation.

Closing Thoughts: Thanks for Reading!

We hope that this FAQ has helped shed some light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding Nathan’s death in The Poisonwood Bible. While the book leaves the cause of his death open to interpretation, it is clear that his legacy continues to have an impact on his family and the larger themes of the novel. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you back here soon!