Poisonwood Bible

by: Barbara Kingsolver

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

"In the world, the carrying capacity for humans is limited. History holds all things in the balance, including large hopes and short lives."

This is Adah's take on the notion of justice, given to us in Book Five. Absolute justice, at least the crude sort of justice that Westerners believe in, she tells us, is impossible. We think, for instance, that it is unjust that in Africa young babies die of malnutrition and disease. To correct this injustice, we send over doctors to feed and inoculate them. Yet, Adah, points out, the result of this good deed is simply death of a different sort. Overpopulation leads to food shortage, deforestation, and further disease. We cannot change the balance of the world, eliminating all that we consider sad and wrong. The world maintains its own balance, juggling human, animal, plant, microbe, mineral and so on in an elaborate scheme of life and death. Rather than despair over this state of affairs, Adah actually stands in awe of it, finding herself rooting no more passionately for the humans than any other of the major players in the global game of survival—rooting, actually, just for the survival of the vast, balancing game itself.