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Leah goes out to look for her father and finds him examining a tremendous insect. He tells her that the reason their plants are not producing any vegetables, is that there are no pollinators suited to these particular plants. An African insect has no idea what to do with a Kentucky Wonder bean, he explains. Leah then asks what Mama Tataba said to him, and he tells her that she let him know why the villagers are so against the idea of baptism. A crocodile ate a young girl a few months before the Price's arrival, and now none of the adults will allow the children near the river. As Reverend Price broods, Methuselah begins to spout words again. Reverend Price flings the bird from his cage, and they watch as he flies hesitantly to the highest tree.


Nathan's demonstration garden is symbolic on three levels. First, the garden itself is representative of the attitudes and beliefs that the Prices carry with them into Africa. Like those attitudes, the plants are wildly inappropriate in this environment. The plants become unrecognizable, almost grotesque in their hugeness. More significantly, though, they are rendered inert and useless. They cannot vegetate in these conditions.

The very act of planting the garden rests upon one of the wildly inappropriate attitudes that the Prices carry with them. The venture reveals Nathan's blind arrogance, the belief that the Congolese are so backward that they have no idea how to grow their own food. It is beyond Nathan's capacity to reason that, if the climate permitted this sort of garden, Africans would have planted it themselves long ago. It does not occur to him to consider whether there is some reason, other than their utter stupidity and backwardness, which might account for the fact that there is little agriculture in Kilanga.

Finally, the garden is symbolic because of its biblical resonance. Leah often speaks of the demonstration garden in biblical terms, saying, for instance that, "the grace of our good intentions made me feel wise, blessed, and safe from snakes." Gardens, and in particular the Garden of Eden, play a prominent role in Christian tradition. It is in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve, the original man and woman, ate from the Tree of Knowledge, at the snake's provocation, thereby imbuing all future generations of human being with original sin. There is a clear irony in drawing a connection between Nathan's undertaking and Adam and Eve's. Adam and Eve sin by grasping for truth and knowledge that is not intended for them. Nathan, by contrast, sins through his willful ignorance, through his refusal to learn anything about the culture around him, and to enlarge and deepen his understanding of the world.

Another interesting theme that gets touched upon in this section, is the differing conceptions of embodiment that prevail in the Western and African cultures. In Kilanga, missing limbs and other handicaps are socially normalized. Bodies are viewed as necessary tools useful to other ends, utilized and thus expected to be damaged. In contrast, the Prices view their bodies as the very things that must be protected, bodily safety being the end to which most other actions are undertaken. Our attitudes toward our bodies are fundamental to the way we approach the world, since it is through our bodies that we do approach the world. The wide divergence between the Prices and their neighbors on this issue, therefore, indicates the vastness of the cultural divide between them.

Kingsolver, incidentally, does not seem completely neutral between the two different conceptions of embodiment. Adah, for instance, is viewed as a tragedy and something of a freak in her own culture. Yet it is Adah's disability that nurtures and enables her unique perspective—her brilliant social criticism and her fascinating inner world. In fact, when Adah loses her handicap later in the book, she is ambivalent about her "cure," unsure whether she is happier without it than with it. She misses the unique perspective that it gave her.

The parallel here between race and handicap is clear. Both being black and being handicapped represent two non-standard ways of being embodied. Both are viewed, at least by certain segments of the population, as less desirable ways of being embodied. Yet there is nothing inherently worse about them. They are only made worse because they are viewed as such. As Adah puts it with regard to her handicap, "The arrogance of the able-bodied is staggering… We would rather be just like us, and have that be all right" ("Exodus: Adah Price, Atlanta January 1985). The word "Caucasian" could easily be substituted for "able- bodied," and the message would ring as true.