Adah is Leah's identical twin, but was born, she tells us, with a condition called "hemiplegia," which means that the entire left side of her body is unusable. She cannot access the left side of her brain, and she drags her left foot along with a limp. In addition, she chooses not to speak, except in emergencies.

Adah boasts that she sees the world differently than other people see it. She reads books backwards, and loves to invent palindromes. Yet she presents us with our first clear-eyed view of life in the village of Kilanga. Kilanga, she tells us, is nothing but a row of mud houses that runs along the Kwilu River. Adah picks up on the fact that the people of Kilanga are extremely modest in their own way. Though the women do not cover their breasts, a Kilanga woman would never leave her yard without covering every inch of her leg. They are shocked to see the Price women in pants.

With no radio or mail service, the Prices are dependent on the very undependable Eeben Axelroot for any news of the outside world.


With each switch in narrative voice, we are made to fully inhabit another Price woman's point of view. The from an extremely limited first person point of view, they are told with a focus on the inner thoughts and feelings of the narrator. Rather than just present the events she is witnessing, each girl presents the events as she herself experiences them. The plot is thus filtered through the reactions of the four Price girls. This narrative device is crucial to Kingsolver's overall aim. Since her intention is to present each woman's response to the events in the Congo, we must be limited to a first-hand account of each woman's experience. Though they are all present at the same events, they do not all have the same experiences, and it is their experiences, rather than any objective occurrence that they carry with them and react to as they mature.

The narrative technique—both the technique of utilizing five separate narrators, and the technique of allowing us into the inner world of each narrator—allows a much deeper understanding of who these women are. We see how they view themselves, how they view the world, and how they view each other. Any one of these angles would be sufficient to give us a sense of who the characters are, but when put together they give us an intricately robust picture that would be very difficult to achieve otherwise.

Ruth May's point of view is extremely revealing in this section, not because of what it tells us about her, but because of what it exposes about the culture in which she was raised. In her innocence, she betrays the deep-seated racism of the United States in the 1950s, speaking of Africans as the cursed Tribes of Ham, and babbling confusedly about "Jimmy Crow." The Jim Crow laws to which she is referring here were a rigid set of rules, set up in the nineteenth century and not abolished until well into the 1960s, which governed every aspect of African American existence. In addition to forcing them to study in separate, inferior schools, the Jim Crow laws required blacks to use separate drinking fountains, public restrooms, restaurants, and so forth. These laws not only kept blacks socially segregated from whites, but also kept them economically inferior and politically powerless.