Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Comparision of Charecters in the Poisonwood Bible and the Mosquito Coast

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Comparison of characters from 'The Poisonwood Bible' and 'The Mosquito Coast 'The Mosquito Coast', directed by Peter Weir, is a movie quite similar in many aspects to the book 'The Poisonwood Bible', written by Barbara Kingsolver, one of those aspects being the similarities between the setting and the characters. In both books, the figure-head of the family, Allie Fox (in 'The Mosquito Coast') and Nathan Price (from 'The Poisonwood Bible') both have similar characteristics, however, different approaches to their ideas.

For example, Nathan believes in forcing on his views and ways onto the Congolese people, however, Allie believes in cooperation with them to succeed in his goals. Both also seem incredibly lifelike as they seem like determined men who are willing to get to their goals at the beginning, however, they seem somewhat more lifelike when they loose something that is close, and become obsessed with their goals, forgetting the welfare of their own families. Both stories are about two families who leave America, their home country, to go to a foreign land.

The two 'heads', however, leave for very different reasons, but they do somewhat leave their families with no choice but to go with them. In 'The Mosquito Coast', Allie takes his family to the Central American rain forests as a means to 'escape' America and it's fate with the Atomic Bombs. Allie also believes that his scientific research is not of any value in America, and believes that his inventions would be more valued if they where taken into areas that have barely been touched by civilization. Nathan, however, leaves his family with no choice when he says that they are moving to the Congo as part of his missionary work.

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He was actually offered this job, and took it in good stride, believing that he should take his message to places which are less civilized. Nathan Price is a Baptist Minister who lives his life by the Bible. He believes that he is a coward for having escaped the fate of being killed in the Battaan Death March, where his whole team died, but he survive due to prior injuries. After that incident, Nathan became quite obsessed with the idea of God hating him for his cowardice. He vowed never to be a coward again and devoted his life to saving as many souls as he could.

Nathan becomes so obsessed with his work that he believed that every obstacle in his way was a 'test by God' to see his resilience. Allie, on the other hand, is an inventor, so claimed by his son, Charlie. He seems to be obsessed, yet thinks quite morally. Allie believes that America is dying, so he decides to leave as he thinks it is too 'painful' for him to watch something he loves die. He gave the example of his mother, who was in hospital when she said '"Why don't you just give me rat poison? '", whereupon Allie said that he left, as he could not bear watch loosing someone close.

Both Nathan and Allie share the same obsession of getting to their goals. So much so, in fact, that they forget about their families welfare and safety almost completely. Even when There is a sudden turn of events, they seem undeterred by what they call their 'destiny'. Nathan was unmoved by the death of Ruth-May as he sees the rain as an opportunity to baptize the locals, instead of mourn for his daughters loss. Nathan blames the fact that Ruth-May was not actually baptized, hence making her death somewhat 'acceptable' to him.

Allie believes the destruction of his machine was somewhat supported by Reverend Spellgood. Allie seems to be a very non-religious person, however, he does know the quotes of the Bible. This shows that Allie explores a few possibilities, yet he only decides to expand on those that he likes. In that manner, Nathan is somewhat unwise in his approach to helping the people. He decides, as soon as he arrives at his house in Kilanga, to set up an 'American Garden', whereby he will make food for his family as well as show the the people of Kilanga his prosperity just because he does not worship false idols.

Nathan attempts to almost force his ways and ideas onto the Congolese people. He seems unbent on his determination to show no cowardice, yet he does not seem willing to accept other ideas. At a point, he does see that Mama Tataba's technique to plant his beans seem to be more appropriate, and does actually implant those ideas. As time passes by, and he sees not much crowd in the Church, he slightly looses his mind and then decides that all his obstacles where placed by God to deter him and to test him.

This is very contrary to what Allie does at the beginning of the movie. Although he may have moved from the USA and dragged his family along, he decides to take a different approach into making his way into the locals hearts. Where Nathan attempted to force his ways onto the locals and believed that he was superior, Allie decided to work with them. He said before the project began '"If I don't work hard enough, you tell me. I am not your boss, I am your friend, and I want to work for you... '".

He may have planned out the project, but he certainly did work as though he were under instructions to do what he was told. He seemed very cooperative, and whenever Mother Fox got any materials to share, she enhanced her husbands popularity by sharing those goods, for example the cloth she was given by the missionaries. She made clothes for her daughters and noticed that Mr. Haddy, a local, was eying the cloth, she decided to make one for him. In the next scene, it shows that everyone on that small island was wearing the same yellow piece of cloth in some shape of form.

Had Nathan been in this situation, he would probably have told his wife of for giving away their resources to the 'unsaved' souls, yet he might also see it as a tactical move to make them go to Church. Allie took this in stride and made the most out of the people's gratitude towards their family by still making them work hard. Nathan and Allie both seem very lifelike characters in their own environments and also in the real world, they could be anywhere amongst us. Their obsessive and arrogant attitudes can be seen in quite a few people who seem quite determined to get what they want.

Nathan seems very lifelike and rationale at the beginning, where the image of a determined Baptist Minister is portrayed. As the story progresses, that image becomes a haze and a more arrogant and devoted trait comes to light, towards the end, he seems possessed by his work, whereupon he forgets the welfare of his own family, remaining undeterred by the death of one of his own children. This, towards the end, seems slightly unrealistic and immoral. However, the presence of this possibility is definitely strong.

Allie seems like a genuinely outgoing and friendly person at the beginning, and this is completely believable. Many people use the same cover of saying that they are all equal in order to get work done. His depression also seems very lifelike as he seems to be completely shattered when he sees his beloved Ice Machine blow up. Yet, towards the end, he does seem also obsessed with the idea of exploring new possibilities. He does go paranoid, thinking that his family is against him, so he forces them to sit on their home-turned-boat and decides to go upriver.

When the rotor breaks away from the main engine, Allie goes underwater to get it. Due to his extended period underwater, his family worries and Charlie gets the idea of heading back downriver to get help from Mr. Haddy, and quite possibly also return to America. As soon as this idea is shared, Allie comes up and realizes that his own kids are conspiring against him, and punishes them for it. This seems extreme, yet absolutely possible for a man who seems to be addicted to his goal. Not only do Nathan and Allie share similarities, but also their wives.

Both Orleanna and Mother always seem to be following their husbands orders, yet at a point, they both realize that what they are doing is wrong. Towards the beginning, both wives are happy to see their husbands working outside, Nathan in the garden and Allie in the jungle clearing space for his house. Orleanna seems to realize quicker on in the story that Nathan could potentially get them hurt, and decides to speak up. This, comparing to Mother's timing, seemed quite early. This could very likely due to the fact that Nathan seems uninterested in his family and Allie cares a lot about them.

Mother only decides to go against Allie when they reach the Ocean and the whole family is rejoicing with the thoughts of returning to America, when Allie destroys their enthusiasm by saying that America isn't there and that they weren't going back. This made Mother question Nathans morality, whereupon the lack of enthusiasm spreads across the whole family. Allie goes from being a friend to a leader almost spontaneously. Orleanna starts to make plans of escape immediately after she gets better from hearing the news of the Congo going into an election period and that her family was staying through it, due to her husbands arrogance.

She does eventually leave him, however, Nathan changes slightly in a way one may perceive apologetic. Allie, after burning Reverend Spellgood's church bell, goes back to see his family leaving him, and says that they couldn't live without them. When he gets shot, their family escapes with his injured body on the boat. All the characters in both the book and the movie seem incredibly lifelike as the stereotypical family is put into extreme conditions. This causes the stereotypical families, which generally include of the male being the leader f the house, the bread earner, and the females being the followers, commanding her children to follow her father and herself. This changes very quickly when the two families go through some trouble in their respective environments, causing the males to get angrier and the females to look out for the welfare of her children more than anything. Both men forget about the opinion of their families (Nathan, ofcourse, not caring about their opinion anyways), and seem set on doing everything possible, except return to the life of luxury.

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