Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Arline Thorn

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce E. East

Third Advisor

Dr. Leonard J. Deutsch

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Barbara Ladner

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Sandra Crihfield


Throughout her career, contemporary writer Barbara Kingsolver has written novels that appeal to both readers and critics. Beginning with The Bean Trees in 1988, through Poisonwood Bible in 1998, Kingsolver established herself as a rising star among contemporary writers. In a review of one of the Kingsolver’s books, one critic said, “It seems there is nothing she can’t do” (Smith 3).

Kingsolver sets herself apart from many of her peers in both her style and her themes. Raised in Kentucky, but now living in Arizona, she has a gift for storytelling. Her dialogue is strong, especially in its ability to capture the sound and voice of the working class. Her characters, for the most part, are well developed. Very often, they are people we would want as friends and neighbors, especially in the toughest of times. Her fiction is full of humor even when the subject is dark. All of these elements—dialogue, characterization and humor—add up to a style that is both literary and accessible. She told one interviewer: “I really believe that complex ideas can be put across in simple language. And a good plot never hurt anybody. It doesn’t cost you in literary terms to give your readers a reason to turn a page” (Kerr 55).

Kingsolver also sets herself apart by incorporating her political views into her writing. She laments what she perceives to be a modern-day separation of art and politics, and she feels an obligation to write about the issues that she feels are important. In an interview with Lisa See of Publishers Weekly, Kingsolver says she wants to leave the world a little more reasonable and just” (46). She says the way to do this is through her writing: “The only authentic and moving fiction you can write is about things that are most urgent to you and worth disturbing the universe over” (47)


Kingsolver, Barbara – Criticism and interpretation.