Poisonwood Bible

by: Barbara Kingsolver

The Judges, continued

Summary The Judges, continued

Analysis

Brother Fowles plays and important symbolic role the story, representing the positive side of Christianity in contrast to Reverend Price's negative. Through his compassion and humility, Brother Fowles is actually able to effect change in the village of Kilanga, for instance in preaching the important of kindness towards one's wife. It is particularly significant that Brother Fowles's great triumph in Kilanga is in championing the cause of women, and protecting them from the heretofore accepted abuse of their husbands. We are told that during Brother Fowles's tenure in Kilanaga, private shrines to Tata Jesus sprung up in all of the kitchens, domain of the woman. Brother Fowles's protectiveness towards women sets him up in direct contrast to Nathan, who is a misogynist and wife-abuser himself. The contrast between Brother Fowles and Nathan is further underscored by their widely differing attitudes toward the natural world. Nathan, a farmer by training, hacks at the land, trying to subdue it into submission. He views nature as something to be manipulated. Brother Fowles, on the other hand, borders on the pagan in his worship of untamed nature.

The worship of nature actually seems to occupy and important place in Kingsolver's notion of "good spirituality." Brother Fowles, as was just mentioned, is a nature worshipper. Orleanna worshipped nature as a girl, and, as we will see, later returns to this state of mind. Both Leah and Adah will express pantheistic sentiments later in the book as well, professing that God is all of nature. In many ways, pantheism is the perfect antidote to the "original sin" of greed and hubris evinced by Nathan, Belgian colonialists, and the United States government. To worship nature as divine it to admit that our role on earth is not to subdue what surrounds us, nor to ring from it all that we can, but to appreciate and understand it.

Brother Fowles's visit comes at a crucial time in the Price women's emotional life. They are losing faith in their old authority figures, in Nathan, God and even the President of the United States. It is Adah who utters the words, "The smiling bald man with the grandfather face has another face," when she discovers that Eisenhower is behind the plot to assassinate Lumumba, but it could just as easily have been Orleanna, or Leah, or even Ruth May who uttered this sentence, and it could just as easily have been Nathan or their traditional image of God whose surface face they suddenly saw as a sham. As their faith in these father figures is undermined, their faith in the principles espoused by these men is undermined as well. In Leah's case, it is the principles that are undermined first, and the men that fall as a result. Brother Fowles's visit provides them with an alternative vision to believe in, a truth of compassion and understanding. Ultimately, Adah, Orleanna, and Leah will all follow Brother Fowles's example, living their own versions of that sort of truth.