The Poisonwood Bible introduces a well civilized family into a completely new and drastic change in environment. Moving from their comfortable homes in the United States to the hostile and extreme environment in Congo, Africa the family has been significantly impacted on how they grow and develop. The overwhelming change in environment pushes the characters to change and the environment itself molds the characters as the story progresses. It’s not only the physical surroundings and geographical surroundings, but also the cultural environment that shape the characters throughout the novel.
The harsh physical and geographical surroundings of the African village pushed characters to change and come to sudden realizations about themselves. Adah, a crippled teenager, had a dim and backward view on her life and for the most part did not get involved with society or with others unless it was absolutely necessary. She exiled herself from society seeing herself as not fitting in or of being any use. Africa’s physical and geographical surroundings changed her psychological state of mind. One day while walking with her sister a Lion appears out of nowhere. Adah is abandoned and put into a life threatening situation but is able to survive despite being crippled. This event causes her to value her own life and to become not so detached from the world. It is this event that pushes her to become a active and involved scientist. The state of her psychological thinking was turned completely around due to her physical and geographical surroundings.
The cultural environment of the African village caused a character named Leah to change her moral views. Leah at first is absolutely devoted to the ways and views of her Christian Father. She shares all the same views and beliefs on what is right and wrong with him. The cultural environment wears down Leah’s faith in her father and her religion. The political and social state of Congo causes Leah to feel compassionate towards the Congo independence movement. She falls in love with the African culture and marries and African man. She drops her shared moral views with her father to pursue her own moral views in justice and freedom. The remainder of her life she fights for Congo independence.
The extreme change in geographical and cultural surroundings has caused characters in The Poisonwood Bible to change and mold their psychological state and moral views. Adah and Leah’s complete change throughout the novel illuminates the author’s work as a whole. The introduction to an alien environment can cause one to grow and realize who they are and what they want to do.