Poisonwood Bible

by: Barbara Kingsolver

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

I am the unmissionary, as Adah would say, beginning every day on my knees asking to be converted.

In this passage, stated in Book Six, Leah expresses her guilt over being born white and American. In contrast to the missionaries, like her father and even her young self, who sought to make the Africans just like Westerners, imposing our values on them, Leah wants to assimilate entirely to the African culture around her. She has come full circle, from missionary to unmissionary.

Like Adah's remark about the impossibility of global justice, this remark of Leah's is closely tied to her ideas about justice in the narrower, human sphere. Just as Adah despairs of global justice, Leah despairs of true human justice, but her response is not to look on dispassionately and admire this fact. Instead her response is, on the active level, to do all she can to minimize injustice. On the emotional level, however, her response to inevitable injustice is to want to distance herself as far as possible from those who are responsible for so much of it.