As Nathan's attempts to save both himself and the Congolese "heathens" become all-consuming, the Price women struggle to find their own brand of freedom. Through the hardships suffered at the hands of Africa's powerful natural forces, politicians both in the village and around the world, and even those they hold closest to their hearts, each woman eventually finds her own way to liberation. Much like the Kikongo word bängala, "liberation" for the Price women has multiple -- and contradictory -- meanings. Whether through an outright rejection of the Congolese culture or a redefinition of "home," each ultimately regains the autonomy denied her in her forced relocation to Africa.
On one level, The Poisonwood Bible is the story of a family torn apart by the quest of a man driven by guilt to save those "unable to save themselves." On another, it is a commentary on how meaningless 1950s American views on race and gender become in a foreign context. On yet another, it is an account of the Western World's appalling history of interference in African political life, and a commentary on the role of religion in Western colonization. The section titles, each referencing a book of the Bible, point to the novel's underlying