Poisonwood Bible

by: Barbara Kingsolver

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

The smiling bald man with the grandfather face has another face.

Adah makes this statement in Book Three, when she discovers that Dwight Eisenhower, President of the United States, is behind the CIA plot to overthrow the elected government of Congo and assassinate its president. It is strange, and also significant, that these words are spoken by Adah, since they more perfectly capture the growing disillusionment with father figures (Nathan, God, and American leaders) that Orleanna and Leah are experiencing. The following morning, Adah's surprise wears off and her usual cynicism creeps back in; she reasons that Eisenhower's discovered treachery is not that different from the fact that "Grandfather God" damns children to hell just for bring unbaptized. Yet here Adah reveals herself as not quite so immune to the idealization of her culture as she imagined herself. Though she fashions herself a complete cynic, here we see her shocked, even if only for a few hours, by the discovery that the President of the United States can be an evil man.

The growing disillusionment experienced by Orleanna, Adah, and Leah with regard to the traditional father figures, dominates the first two thirds of the book. Losing faith first in Nathan, then in their old conception of God, and finally in the United States, they are left abandoned and alone in a world they no longer understand. Once the disillusionment is complete, a process that ends for Leah and Orleanna when Ruth May dies (Adah's disillusionment peaks during the driver ant episode), the remaining action is dominated by their attempt to replace their old beliefs with new ones, and their false father figures with truer figures of authority and respect.