Cultural imperialism takes place, when a culture imposes their own beliefs onto another culture. This takes place in the book, when the United States and Belgium imposed their culture onto the Congolese. Barbara Kingsolver is showing us that cultural imperialism has a negative effect on a culture. She shows us this through two different stylistic devices: characterization and symbolism.
Kingsolver uses characterization to show average characters in the book, and how they all have cultural arrogance. Cultural arrogance is when a person try’s to show people they think they have a more superior way of life. Nathan and his family go into the Congo, and they all have a lot of cultural arrogance that is why they are there in the first place, to take over and convert their religion. And he thinks he”s so right, the whole way, while he”s even…even while he”s trying to speak in the [Kukanga] language of his…of the people he”s trying to save.
Another example of cultural arrogance is when; Ruth May tries to show them how to play games. The Congolese has always been used to playing games of survival. Ruth may comes in and less then 10 minutes later, she shows them how to play games for fun and not survival. Such games as “Mother May I?” This shows that the Congolese took years to invent games in their culture and she comes in and changes them with in a matter of minutes.
In the book, when Nathan dies, that symbolizes how cultural imperialism is bad. Nathan takes the children forcefully and put them in a boat and brought them to the river to baptize them. A crocodile turned over the boat and all the children died. The Congolese were so mad, that they ran Nathan out of town. Nathan then ran up the old watchtower, and the Congolese then set it on fire.