As are,” that distinguishes one life from

As Kingsolver has established throughout the novel, in Kikongo words bear great significance, the Kikongo word nommo means word, but it extends beyond acting as a syntactic device. Nommo is a name, more so a “force that makes things live as what they are,” that distinguishes one life from another, things are not recognized as existing until they are named (Kingsolver 209). As Adah struggles with understanding the concept that is nommo, she compares herself to Leah, her identical twin, but by comparison, their lives are very different. This is because Adah is Adah, and Leah is Leah, where their names distinguish between their lives despite being twins. In addition to the girls birth-given Christian names they were gifted Kikongo names. Ruth May’s given biblical name refers to the story of Ruth, which reflects Ruth May Price’s adaptive, strong willed and stubborn personality. The people of the Congo named Ruth May Bandu meaning “the littlest one on the bottom” which reflects her being the smallest and youngest of the Price family. Leah Price’s biblical name refers to Laban’s daughter, Leah, who is devout to her father, but later deceived by him, which demonstrates Leah Price’s journey from whole heartedly worshipping Nathan Price to condemning and overtly disobeying him. Leah’s Kikongo name is Leba, meaning “fig tree”; possibly more significant is the Kikongo name Leah avoided acquiring. Léa in Kikongo translates to “nothing much”, which, as the readers have witnessed, she is anything but. Adah does not have a name referring to the bible, but she was granted a Kikongo name, Benduka, which means “crooked walker”, literally reflecting Adah’s physical disabilities accompanying hemiplegia. Rachel Price’s biblical name refers to the sister of Leah, Laban’s daughter, where her Kikongo name, mvula, meaning “white termite” reflects her reluctance to accept the Congo, therefore she stays inside becoming pale. Names, or nommo, in the Congo are more significant to whom or what it names and they allow the person or object to be considered as “existing”, whereas in the West, some names are based on functionality and others are simply based on aesthetic. The Kikongo word, mantu, means “man” or “people”. Any living thing with roots and a head can be muntu. Kikongo ideals of naming and existence differ from western ideals. Kikongo seems to be more deliberate in choosing names for things and they recognize the presence of names to be more significant than what westerners do. When it comes to someone or something being acknowledged as a person, Kikongo identifies it as something with roots and a head, disregarding whether it is alive, dead or a god, whereas in the west, they have to have an active heartbeat and fit into this preconceived notion of what “mankind” looks like. Complicated ideas concerning morals are exhibited all throughout The Poisonwood Bible. Adah talks about the justice and balance in life itself. She realizes and points out that for something to live, something else has to die, for example the village had to plot and kill multiple animals utilizing the large fire to survive. This idea that sacrifice is essential in surviving exemplifies balance, but also the struggle between justice and injustice while achieving it. Survival influences many of the characters actions, in which the reads see another dilemma between betrayal and consequently salvation. When the ants flood the village destroying almost everything in their path, Orleanna is faced with the decision to save Ruth May and herself, or to save Adah. In the end, she chooses to abandon, or betray, Adah for the sake of Ruth May’s, and her own , salvation. Something accompanying sacrifice and betrayal is guilt. Leah experiences heavy guilt during the aforementioned storm of ants when she realizes she left Adah behind. She begins to be consumed with guilt for feeling as though she repeatedly leaves her twin behind or hinders her quality of life, which further demonstrates Leah’s innocence as she is merely fifteen years old and can not be held accountable for the disabilities of her sister. The character who should exude some sort of guilt, but does not, is Nathan Price. His character within itself keeps his entire family held captive in Africa while all of them, including his wife, Orleanna, are trying to return home. Essentially, the entire Price family is full of individuals who are responsible for their own lives and can make their own decisions, but as Nathan, the self-proclaimed and stubborn leader of the house, forbids them from “giving up” and returning home, he is holding his, in essence free family captive, denying them the freedom they are yearning for.

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