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 Favorite Character in Poisonwood 
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Hi! There is a questioning techinque that I use in Reading Groups sometimes when I ask the students who their favorite character is and why. The question usually aids in character description. As I was reading Poinsonwood, that question came to mind. So here goes... Who is your favorite character in The Poisonwood Bible and why?
I think my favorite character is Adah. Maybe it's because I can identify with her in a way because over the years some people have thought that I couldn't do things "just because I'm little." I think I am also drawn to Adah because of her "special needs." After mainstreaming a child with Down's Syndrome last school year, my compassion foward students/people with special needs has increased greatly. I think that Adah is a lot smarter than she is given credit for. When I read those phrases that can be spelled the same way frontward and backward, I thought, "Wow, that takes a lot of thought processing, and I thought she only has 'half a brain.'" Happy Reading! Elizabeth

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Elizabeth Rachael Dobson


Mon Nov 29, 2004 5:09 pm
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I've been thinking about your post and I don't think I have a favorite character, unless it was the snake who made a big impression and left quickly. But all kidding aside, I guess I relate best to Adah. She was the character who to me grew the most and I think she was the only one who had faith in anything other than herself. I can't understand the Mama at all, Rachael was too shallow, Leah was too deep, and Ruth May died too young to really get to know.

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Paula Holder


Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:19 pm
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I have really struggled with this question, Elizabeth. The reason being is that they are all so human that each have their strengths and weaknesses.

Adah does make great strides physically from the beginning to the end of the story. I wonder though were some of the physical handicaps brought on by her feelings of jealousy towards Leah. She says that the doctor said “an injury to the brain occurring as early as mine should have no lasting effects on physical mobility.â€

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Melanie Sharpe


Tue Dec 07, 2004 9:42 pm
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I know what you mean. We learned so much about each character as we read the book, how they looked at life and death, that it became difficult to condense easily. Rachael does seem to look at life as a "t". It is surprising to me that although she is a more likeable character than Nathan, that she isn't more respectable. It is like they both represent the extremes of their point of view.

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Paula Holder


Tue Dec 07, 2004 10:30 pm
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That is a good point. If they weren't so extreme, they could be more respected and you could be more sympathetic to their circumstances.

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Melanie Sharpe


Wed Dec 08, 2004 6:34 am
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I'm not sure that I have a favorite. Adah's backwards writing drove me nuts, to the point that I finally would just skip those parts of her narrative. Rachel, like we've said before, I see on a daily basis. Ruth May, I didn't really get a chance to figure out. Orleanna made me mad. But, that is because I view her from the perspective of MY time in history. I made me mad that she put up with and took all that emotional crap from Nathan without standing up for herself. However, knowing that in her day you did all you could to keep the family together makes it easier for me to understand. I guess that Nathan and Leah are my two favorites, if I had to say. I say Nathan because he stood by his Truth and defended it to his dying day(literally). You have to admire that kind of faith. Leah is my other most likeable character. She is how I would like to have been more like. She was willing to be less conventional and do things she wasn't supposed to do. I do however, think that she paid a high price for her unconventionality.

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RANDY K. SAIN
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Sat Dec 11, 2004 8:07 am
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Randy, I can really appreciate your statement about Nathan. Although, I can’t say that I would handle Nathan's situation in the same manner, you have to admire his willingness to go out on faith even though it cost him everything. It reminded me of a joke…where a guy asked God why he didn’t help him during the flood. The reply was I sent you a person, a boat, and an airplane….okay so I cut to the end, but did Nathan become so obsessed that he neglected to see.

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Melanie Sharpe


Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:25 am
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I think Nathan needed to read I Cornithians 13:13: But now faith, hope and love abide these three, but the greatest of these is love. Hey maybe he should have read the whole chapter. Nathan had lost love, so his faith didn't lead him to the correct decisions.

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Paula Holder


Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:13 pm
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I have enjoyed reading all of your responses. Melanie, I agree that all of the characters did have their strenghts and weaknesses. Paula, I found your advice for Nathan very thought provoking. Nathan must be admired for doing what he felt called to do. However, I wonder if his desire and determination to fullfill his calling as a pastor/missionary took precedence in his mind over his other very important calling, being a parent.

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Elizabeth Rachael Dobson


Sun Dec 12, 2004 2:18 pm
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Paula you are right. He did lose his love. I suppose here at Christmas it is evident that that should be the overriding factor, but it is interesting to watch people this time of year. Our preacher even mentioned it today about being in Winston shopping yesterday and seeing people so angry about parking places and traffic backups. His comment was that many of them (people almost rear ending one another to not let others get in front of them in line) were probably sitting in church today. I think sometimes we get so focused on ourselves that we forget about the ultimate goal. Most of us don't get as obsessed as Nathan, but we at sometime experience some degree of being self serving and not doing what we know we are supposed to do. Also to his defense, Nathan had to have been affected by his past experiences. It would be hard to leave those visions behind. I could see where your heart could become hard when you have to live in that environment.

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Melanie Sharpe


Sun Dec 12, 2004 3:56 pm
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