The Neodomestic American Novel: The Politics of Home in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible

Kristen J. Jacobson, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring 2005), 105-127

This article reads The Poisonwood Bible as a revision of the domestic nineteenth-century novel, or neodomestic novel, which reveals new visions of American domesticity and the privilege of white women. Unlike Little Women, which the essay positions as a traditional example of domestic fiction, The Poisonwood Bible does not end with a successful portrayal of homemaking. Instead, the novel investigates the home as a location of identity formation, where a conventional home can simply recycle colonial, patriarchal, and racist ideologies. Neodomestical novels challenge these ideological assumptions, destabilizing the idea of the home in order to challenge its established functions. Instead of seeing the home as an extension of the American dream, such novels posit that homes may in fact be poisoned and need to undergo radical changes.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]