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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Essay Assignment #1

     The idea of exile, as claimed by Edward Said, is a very interesting one.  Most people see it as an interesting topic to discuss, but when put in the place of someone being exiled the topic becomes almost tragic.  Being forced to leave your home with no option to return can make someone feel alienated; which is exactly what Nathan Price did to his daughter Leah in the Poisonwood Bible.  Leah's father, whom she looked up to, betrayed her and put her and their whole family in a dangerous situation leaving Leah feeling lost and alone.  Although, Edward Said also states that exile can be enriching. Even though Leah initially experienced the negative effects of being exiled, she was later able to rediscover herself and experience a new world through her own eyes.  She was able to create a new live separate from the one that she was forcibly exiled from.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is a literary example of how exile can be alienating and enriching in the same experience.

     Being put in Leah's situation can be very frightening.  Once Nathan decided that the Price family would be moving to the Congo they had to immediately leave their past life behind, bringing with them only their memories and a few essential tools.  When being exiled there is nothing of your past life to hold onto.  There is also no hope for return.  When the Price family was informed that they were in danger Nathan refused to let his family leave until his mission was complete.  In their new location the Price family was also outcasted.  They looked, acted, and talked different than the natives which made them constantly feel unwelcome.  The Price family struggled to fit in and were never accepted which made them feel alienated.

     Being outcasted can also be an enriching learning experience.  Leah was able to grow culturally by living a completely different life than she was used to.  She learned to provide for herself and her family with very little resources.  Being exiled also forces you to meet new people.  If it weren't for Leah's father forcing their family to leave, she would have never met her best friend and later husband, Anatole.  By experiencing and putting up with the intense feeling of alienation that exile can bring, Leah overcame and created a new life for herself in Africa.

     Edward Said's opposing definition of the term exile forces readers to really think deep into its meaning and effects on people.  The Poisonwood Bible is a perfect example of how exile can be defined as aliening and enriching at the same time.


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