(Students: Paste your reports in the appropriate locations, or add one of you own. Make sure your first name appears at the bottom, as we have done elsewhere. Don't forget to re-format paragraph breaks by adding spaces.)

Here are the reports of several characters from The Poisonwood Bible, who recently made a visit to Punahou School:

Ruth May

I sure was wrong when I thought Congo was like a sideways world. Over here is like when you try to watch something while you are a-swinging in a swing or going up and down in a see-saw. This place that we are in was so colorful, like those coloring books Mama gave me. I guess Jesus really likes it here. The only brown I see here is the brown on the trees, and the people. But these people aren’t a dark, dark brown like the people back in the Congo, I don’t know exactly what they are but Leah says that they’re Polynesian. I’m not really sure what that means yet.
I saw a lot of birds too. But not the big ones like Methuselah, these ones were fat! I reckon the people that live here feed them some pretty big fruits or something. And then when I was a-looking at this one big bird, some girls that were not too much taller than me ran by me with these funny hats on. I have never seen anyone wear those kinds of hats. Not even in the Congo. They were colorful, and had four points with bells that rang as the girls bounced up and down as they ran.
I was getting kind of bored because none of those people would talk to me. I guess Rachel felt bad for me, for once. Because I found this weird looking tile thing which had all these blue and green colors on it. So Rachel asked me if I wanted to play “Mother May I?” But then she got all huffy because I was Mother and I wouldn’t let her take any scissor steps. So she stomped off in the middle of our game. I tried to find Leah, but she was following Father like she always does, probably trying to find out more about God and this place or something. And Adah was no where in sight. I guess this place isn’t totally different from the Congo.

Birds. I love birds. They are fun to chase. Mama says that it is un-lady like to chase, but I do anyway. Mama isn't here. I don't know where here is, but it is very green. I must not be in the Congo anymore 'cause I don't see any Tribes of Ham. Only Orientals. I know because they have squinty eyes and black hair like in books. Some of them have dark skin like the Tribes of Ham, but I can tell that they aren't from there. They wear bright clothes like back at the Congo, but their pants and shirts are like what we used to wear. They go back and forth into and out of buildings like bees from flower to flower.

I was chasing this one bird that was walking like an Egyptian with a piece of rubbish in its mouth when I slipped and fell. It was on this bunch of blue pebbles stuck on the ground. Some of the pebbles had writing on them. I bet if I were a bird I could fly up and see what the picture was of.

When the wind blows, it makes the trees cry and all the leaves fall down. It's like yellow rain. The wind is mean here. When a bunch of wind comes a-blowing the red dirt gets everywhere and in people eyes too. If I were a bird I would fly above the wind and its mean-ness. When the leaves fall, it covers the grass like snow. I would like to make a leaf-angel, but I don’t. I don’t know why I don’t, but I just don’t feel like it.

There’s music in this place too, this place without my family and without the Congo. A boy has a type of instrument with strings across it. It looks like a gourd except flat, and it makes different sound when you touch the different strings. The trees like it too because they sway in time to the beat and the birds sing a long. I like this place a lot. If I ever needed to close my eyes and picture somewhere else to be, this would be it.

If God says we are the Tribes of Japheth and the Africans are the Tribes of Ham, then these people must be the Tribes of Shem. Leah says that the Tribes of Ham and Shem got mixed in with each other so they are somehow related. But they don’t look like the Congolese at all. They have the same black hair, but their skin is too light, it’s almost yellow colored. I’ve never seen Shem’s children before so I don’t know how they look like. We don’t have people like this back home. I didn’t even see any of them in the Congo. I’ll ask Leah later, she probably would know. Leah knows everything.

I wonder if these people have their own separate school like back home in Georgia. At home, we have separate places for the Tribes of Ham to go to. Everything is different and separated. They can’t mix with us, God forbids it. It’s all in the Bible. I’m still too young to read it myself but Mama reads it to me sometimes at night. I wonder if they read the bible here. I see them holding books but I don’t think any of them are the Bible.

In the Congo the women put big baskets full of food on their heads. Here, they put big bags on their backs. I guess those are probably filled with food too. But this is not the Congo. I hardly see any black people here. All I see are yellow people everywhere. I saw a group of white people a while back, but not anymore. Some of them were talking to the sons of Shem. I don’t think that’s a good idea. The Tribes of Japheth and Shem should not mix, God wouldn’t like it. Rex Minton from Sunday school told me this. He should know, he can speak like a native in the Congo.

Being a spy is fun. Today I got to go to a place with lots of big buildings and trees. The trees weren’t as big as the ones in the jungle at where we live in the Congo, but there where a lot less. Rachel told me they can keep on growing till they touch the sky. I wanted to climb up this big old tree there because I am a darn good climber and because I like to look down at people when they walk by. Then I remember what happen last time when I fell and couldn’t move my arm and it hurt so bad! So no sir, I don’t wana climb no big trees to spy anymore.

In this big place, I like play in the green grass because in the Congo, there aint no green grass, all they got is brown grass, that pokes your body and hurts if you try to play in it. I think its because God gives lots of brown grass to the brown people in Congo, because they aren’t being good enough to have soft green grass like me.

I found this place up high that was almost like sitting in a tree, and was a lot easier to get to. You just have to walk up this thing that has lots of long blocks placed on each other. I think Leah told me those block thingies were called stairs. When I was at the top, I had to stand on my tippy toes to see over this ledge. I watched big people like Leah and Rachel walk by for a long time. They all had on clothes that where to big, and they had on bags that where balanced on their back some how. It reminded me of how the Congo girls have to carry stuff on their tiny little heads.

After I while I heard mama calling, so I quickly got down. I don’t want to get caught spying no no no, that’s a bad thing. Father says that spying is a sin and he hits me real hard when I get caught.

Today I went to a real big school. Everything was big, the buildings, the trees, and the people. I stepped in a puddle of mud and got my nice shoes all dirty. I don't like it when my shoes are dirty. I found some flowers that smelled real nice so I gave them to Father as a gift. He musta not really liked them because I found them on the ground a littlle while later. The onlu animals I saw were birds, not like in the Congo where there were so many animals I couldn't name them all. All the birds looked the same to me and they didn't ever sing. They just ast there doing nothing at all. I tried to catch one but it was quicker than me so it got away. I walked over to one of the big people and tried to talk to him. He wasn't very friendly, not like the people in Congo. Everyone in Congo was real nice to me.

The trees musta been sick because every time the wind started blowing the leaves started falling off. I tried to catch all the leaves so that I could give them back to the tree but there was just too many of them falling leaves for me to catch. Father said that the leaves were falling off cause of the will of God. He said that God wasn't happy with those leaves.

Today, I went to a big place with so many people. It looked like a school where Rachel and Leah and maybe even Adah would go to. My sisters came with me but Mama didn’t come. But one of the Tatas did. I also met Tata Schauble. He was nice and told me that I had to be able to see the building when we went outside, just like how Mama tells us not to leave the garden. He said he was going to watch us from the big steps.

I tried to talk to some people, but most of them looked at me like I was the lion ant that Leah talks about. But this one girl was friendly. I didn’t get her name, but she was nice. She brought this other boy with her. They both had dark skin, but not as dark as Nathan’s. Their eyes were kinda slanted, and they were dressed like me—completely covered in the American style. So they couldn’t be all that bad like the rest of the clan of Han. I’m not sure if they were part of then clan. But I forgot to ask when the girl asked me if I knew the game Mother May I.

The three of us tried to get other kids to play. But they didn’t want to so we tried to play with just us. It got boring after a while because they were both so good. They started talking to each other and I didn’t understand what they were talking about so I went to get a drink of water.

I was about to get to the water fountain when I saw something blue smeared on the wall. It looked like one of Rachel’s make-up kits that got all messed up, only it was blue. I put my finger on it to see if it was lipstick. It didn’t feel like lipstick. I looked at my finger and saw some of it stuck to my finger. I smelled it. It didn’t smell like anything at all. I looked around to see if any of my sisters were around. Nope. I sniffed it again then sucked on my finger like how I used to do when I was a baby. It didn’t taste like anything. I was going to ask some people if they knew what it was, but they all looked so busy with their arithmetic and writing, so I don’t know what that blue blob was.

I saw Rachel talking to this girl. I went to see her. The girl’s name was Sam Lee. She was writing in a blue notebook. It actually wasn’t a notebook because it had squares in them going up and down. But she was writing in it. I asked her if I could see it. When I looked at the book, I noticed that she was writing in characters and the characters were going backwards! The beginning was at the back of the book and the characters were going down right to left. Adah would’ve liked that. The characters were pretty looking. They were straight and wavy. They had boxes in some of them. Then I asked Sam,
“Is this like the Verse?” I turned through the pages.

“Sort of,” Sam said. “It’s Japanese.” I think that Rachel explained what the Verse was to Sam, because I didn’t tell her but she knew what it was. I don’t know.
“Is it fun?” I asked.
“No,” she groaned.
“So it is the verse.”
“No. It’s practice.”
“What are you practicing for?”
“Oh my goodness!” Sam said suddenly. She made me jump.
“What?” I asked not looking up from the Japanese.
“You’re really in character!”
“HUH?” I asked confused. Now I looked up at her.
“Where is Chelaine!?” Sam asked reaching out to hold my shoulder.
“Whose Shelane?” I really didn’t know what she was talking about.
“Where did you put Chelaine!?” Sam insisted.
“I don’t know. Did she run away?” I asked ignoring her groans of confusion and continued to look at the pretty characters..
“Aahh!” Sam said. Then she started laughing. “Snap out of it! You’re Chelaine! Not Ruth May!!”
“You’re really confusing me.”
Sam threw up her hands in the air in defeat. “I give up.”
“So is this the verse?” I asked again about her blue book.
“Yes and no.”
“Does somebody make you do it?”
Sam snorted in laughter as she smacked her forehead as if it was something everybody knew. “My Japanese teacher.”
“Do you like your teacher?”
“She’s nice. It’s just that there’s a lot of homework.”
I looked up to see if Tata Schauble was still on the steps. “Uh-oh.” He wasn’t. That meant that I had to go. “Sam, I have to go.”
“Okay. See ya lataz.”
“Okay,” I said. Then I ran up the steps so I could beat Rachel to see Tata Schauble.



Men could drive others crazy, more girls than other men. I heard it straight from another girl I met who reminded me of Rachel with her spear of attitude ready to attack with her amusing facial expressions. In the Congo, the ladies walk with heavy baskets over their heads. This young lady, basket or no basket, had her head weighed down with enough thoughts to keep my ears open longer than I normally have them with Rachel. Her big oriental eyes and her petite figure made me sit up straight. Her tiny mouth managed to erupt with sentences miles long. I sat amongst the cool stone surrounding one of the most beautiful gardens I have seen. For weeks, I have been surrounded by the fauna and shrubs of the Congo and still, I have yet to identify the extravagant, glossy leaves that rested below a grandmotherly Monkey pod tree. I wished Father would tell me. There were a couple of shiny wrappers that caught my eye. I imagined the eggs from our hens being cleansed and individually wrapped in the same flashy material—clean, sold at the market!

“I went all crazy psycho bitch on him… but I was like whatever, and I don’t want to be associated with him but I should trust him I know I shouldn’t but I don’t think I should do that I mean I could but I wouldn’t do that—I don’t know.” I struggled to breathe. I couldn’t breathe unless she finished speaking and took a whiff of air herself.

I shuffled around in my seat, noticing the boy wearing a wrinkled, grey shirt turn around. He seemed to be a bit startled. We made eye contact and I looked away, quickly looking back at the girl, whose back was turned to the gentleman. He was sitting up straight, tall and muscular with smooth skin of a rather warm, dark shade.

“So, yeah. He wants to go to prom with me. I don’t even know if I should go because he’s kind of a creep and all. And so then that other guy was getting all pissy and stuff and like I didn’t know why he was like that because he shouldn’t be acting that way.”
I sighed, staring blankly at her. I tried to find some way of helping her with her dilemma, my mind scrambling to find the words. I wondered if Rachel’s How to Survive 101 Calamities included a solution to a teenager of flying words—or perhaps Rachel would know what to do, considering her own tantrums of little complaints and spurts here and there. I continued to nervously swing my right leg that hung from the bench, as the girl managed to cross her legs. I looked past her now bony, lopsided shoulders, watching Adah looking at a boy the same way she looks at Father. I could hear the girl’s flooding complaints squeezing the air out of her after another couple “sentences”, her voice lowering—and going up again.

“Goddamn Korean boys drive me crazy!”
The gentleman in the grey shirt turned around once more. “You mean you have something against Koreans?!”
“No—argh—never mind!” She slouched and exhaled. She seemed to shrink to a size smaller than she was when I met her. Her shoulders dipped so low that I thought she would eventually collapse before me onto the dusty concrete. She looked at me and pursed her lips together.
“You do have something against others?”
“Well, why don’t you explain to him then? Tell him the same thing you told me,” I clasped my hands together and laid them on my lap. “Then maybe he’ll understand.”
“I don’t want to.” She stared me down and replied to me in a stern voice. It gave me the chills, reminding me of Anatole and our cold talk on the boat. I fell silent. My heart leaped when Rachel bumped into me as she plopped herself down next to me. She eyed out my new friend, giving us that glamorous smile of hers. The girl began her venting again as I slowly stood up and gravitated away from what seemed like another cloud of complaints coming my way. With Rachel wandering near me, my tolerance of nagging and constant exclamations would surely give way.

I found myself drifting from the conversation of Korean boys to the big, white clock embedded between stones of a building that cast a shadow over the vast, green field sprawled out before me. If only our home were made out of stone. If only time was that large in the Congo, for its other hand to tap Father on the shoulder.



Geez oh man! What is it? It is nothing like this back it the Congo. Try explaining this those unintelliagible black children who eat dirt. I don’t think even they will understand. Cool air is blowing on me. It is so much better for my beautiful hair. Not like that filthy air in the Congo. Why can Father not be so stu-born, so we can live here where the air is cool and we don’t have to bother with sweating. At this temperature, I could work on my Bridget Bardot walk all day. Adah wouldn’t know the difference because her nose is always burrowed in that book of hers.

Lordy! What are these signs on the door? “Ka Wai Ola entries are due. Send to bschauble@punahou.edu.” What in God’s creation does that mean? Oh, well.

Man oh man! Is that a boy and a girl? They look so strange. They are hugging and kissing near a tree. They look like my age. Back in Georgia, you have to be married with a ring. Boy, even Mother and Father don’t do that. Though that dirty Axelroot laid his filthy lips on me that one day in the forest. But Axelroot could have at least warned me so I could have puckered up my lips to be ready. Well, I guess it’s fine as long as they are seeing stars and it’s something magical.

I don’t get it. It was so cool and clean in that brown building and now it is so humble. The humblity is making my hair stick to my face. Let me go wash my hands. Geez oh boy! The water is coming out of the pipe when I put my hand under it. This isn’t Kansas anymore! I wonder if we could get that in the Congo. Wow! And the water is actually clear. Lord almighty, this is beboppingly great.

Hawaii surely is paradise. I wish that we didn’t have to visit this school named Ponchou, or some Hawaiian name. I heard that this school was filled with white kids who listened to the hottest songs, wore the most popular clothes and were as rich as Daddy Warbucks. Boy, was I surprised. The school had mostly Orientals! Geeze, I have never seen so many Chinks and Japs in my life! Not to mention that the school is HUGE.

Before I landed in Hawaii, I thought everyone lived in grass shacks. Man, oh man was I wrong! There were a bunch of big old stone buildings that looked like they came from some fancy old college up in the north. There were even bigger and fancier new buildings put in between. Many of the students wandered about, like they had all the time in the world. There were no teachers going after them making them study their science and math, like I would have expected. Sure would have happened like that back home.

In some ways I was reminded of being back home in Georgia in the spring-time. There was the same gentle breeze with bright blue sky and white fluffy clouds, which would gust up all of a sudden, like before a cloud burst back home. But the rain came down different, not the stinging pebble drops of a Georgia field washer, but a soft and misty kind of rain.

Folks were all pretty nice and friendly, I got to say. They all say’n howdy, and hello, and howzit, and slap’n each other’s hand, instead of do’in a regular hand shake. It didn’t seem to matter much of any, that everyone had different colors of skin, and hair, and eyes. All kinds of race of folk they had there. I noticed most was those folks all seemed pretty happy and easy to get along. Nice people, most of them, like folk you might meet at church in a neighboring Georgia town. Except for them be’n all them different races.
I went to see a big school called Punahou and, let me tell you, Punahou is my kind of school. The first thing I noticed when I got there was all the kids were just sitting around on benches and tables and talking to each other. They didn’t even have to go to class! I guess the only people who went to class were the ones who wanted to be lawyers or something when they grew up. Why anyone would want to be a lawyer, though, I just don’t get. They spend their whole life reading books and learning how to argue with people. That sounds like a waste of time to me. Well, I guess the learning to argue part wouldn’t be too bad, though, because then I could shut Leah up when she is acting all like Little Miss Smarty Pants in front of Father.
I was walking along a wide path when some kind of animal scurvied across the path, right in front of my feet, into a bush. The animal looked like a mix between a rat and a squirrel. Ugh, it made me shudder. That was the last thing I thought I would see here. I saw my fair share of creepy crawlies, as Ruth May would say, in the Congo.
There were so many different paths at this school! They were all over. They were cement, too, not like the red dirt roads in the Congo where if you took two steps your entire shoe would be covered in grime. But I could walk on these paths for weeks and my shoes would stay clean. These paths were in the very center of the school so I could look around in every direction and see people.
Finally, thank the Lord, I was no longer forced to look at people parading around in mismatched sarongs or eyeglasses without any glass anymore. The girls and even the boys had nice, clean clothes. But I’m sure they didn’t clean their clothes by risking their lives doing the wash in the streams and rivers that are contanimated with kakakaka.
I saw a group of boys sitting together with lots of food in front of them. The boys were all white, fully dressed, and about my age, which was a nice change from the Congolese children. They all had big plates of spaghetti. I wanted to eat a real meal like that so much that I went up to them and asked where they got it from. One of the boys pointed up the hill and said he got it from the cafeteria. I was about to start walking in the direction he pointed, when I remembered I only had two quarters in my pocket. I asked him how much it cost and he said he didn’t know because he paid with his ID card. I asked him what that was and he pulled a small plastic card out of his pocket and showed it to me. His picture was on it and everything. His friends looked at me strangely and started laughing. Well jeez, even though it was the first time I was at that school they didn’t have to be so mean. They could have just told me instead of making things up. I knew Mother would have disapproved, but I didn’t care. I gave them the worst stink eye I possibly could and walked away.


Man oh man, I just landed in heaven. All of my tortured time spent in the Congo is being reciprocated be being here is this magnificent place. I walk and there are buildings that are filled with cool air and they actually have lights running through them. There are no more barbaric people and I can finally be around civilized people and I can act like how I really want to be. I walk around and my stomach growls as I see people on table that are filled with coffee, drinks food and even chips. My mind thinks that my eyes are playing games on me because there is actually edible food that I did not have to slave over all day. Lo and Behold there is actual water in bottles, imagine that not having to boil water all day long just to prevent millions of germs and diseases from killing us. Everyone here has great clean clothes which have no stains because they have the luxuries of things such as washing machines.
O Lordy how I wish I could fit in with these people who listen to crazy hip music from boxes, have beautiful material things and get to eat food from bowls and plates. O if they only knew how good they have it. Suddenly, a man with glasses and black hair waves to me. People call out to him yelling Hata. He reminds me of men such as Tata Ndu or Axeroot. There are so many luxuries here such as cute bags I must get, watches and earrings that I adore. My father would be disgusted by all the people here because there are no plan Janes here.


Llah Ekooc. Cooke Hall. As I step out into a vast verdant land, I see the engraved letters of C-O-O-K-E H-A-L-L on a distant, majestic edifice; it is surrounded by towering trees and colorful plants and flowers-- truly a sight to see. I approach the lush fields of grass and see my family, friends, and the native people of this place.

A dark, covered passageway of a white structure catches my eye. I decide to sit under there and take notes and even get a chance to converse with the natives! And lo and behold, a native speaks to me as I enter their gathering place. He asks me questions and I write down my name and give him my answers. When he reads what I write, he laughs at me and goes back to playing some black mechanism.

I go back to taking notes when suddenly, another native throws a newspaper on my lap. U ohanu pak, Ka Punahou, it says on the title page. I'm instantly immersed in reading of the culture of Punahou, I secretly with to be part of this, but instead I will just have to back to the Congo in a few minutes. I intake one more breath and fathom the greatness of this community, and I picture the possibilites if I stayed here. But then I see the signal symbolizing the journey home. As I get up to leave, I wonder what it would be like if I could learn the ways of Punahou, to remain alone here. To be left behind.


A good man’s work is never finished. God’s Will placed me in this strange new place. The buildings here are large; much larger than those in Bethlehem. The technology is overwhelming. God has gifted those here with many wonders: automatic lamps. A machine that cools the hot air. Machines that project images of pure light. The greatest marvel here is the computer. This machine is omnipotent. It has virtually no limits. It can write, talk, store information, and project moving images onto a screen. It is incredible.

But I am surrounded by heathens. The people here are without God’s light to guide them. Women leave thier bosoms and legs uncovered. The men make no attempt to hide their lust; I can see it in their eyes. The women only encourage them, teasing and taunting them. Both are constantly shouting the Lord’s name in vain. I see children committing acts of adultery in plain sight! There are no ministers to share the word of God. Those who should take action are too obsessed with themselves and their work.

I passed a young woman today in the middle of a large area. Her clothes were of bright colors and showed vulgar images unbefitting a lady. They were tight fitting and left little to the imagination. I was compelled to say something. “God frowns upon nakedness! Have humility and modesty in His presence.” She looked at me and said, “Who the hell are you, creep?” I could only stare dumbfounded by her blasphemy as she walked away.

There is a chapel here. One good soul was kind enough to lead me there. I spoke with the chaplain. He was a queer man, short, dark skinned, and he only had small slits for eyes, as if god was punishing him for something he had witnessed by robbing him of his vision. I questioned him about the people here. He told me that it was just there way. It was not for us to decide whether they are right or wrong. I told him he was lost, and that I will help him find God’s light once again. He grew quiet, and asked me to leave.

I must save these godless heathens! I must prove myself in the presence of God. He shall guide me. God’s light will shine here, mark my words. I will save them. I must. God has called me here, and I will answer his summons. He rewards those who work in his name. Soon my crime will be washed away. I will be in God’s favor once again. It is up to me to help these people. God is testing me. I am alone in this mission, with naught but my faith and my own two hands. I will succeed, and only then will I be rewarded.

What a beautiful day God has blessed us with. The heat was just normal to me because of living in the Congo. I saw one girl screaming at another girl. I was dumbfounded to see the act of lunacy. I saw the girl being chased was wearing a necklace and couldn’t help but notice the cross on it. I shook her hand and said, “From book 28 verse 3, ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress…the horn of my salvation…so shall I be saved from my enemies.’” I thought the girl would know exactly what I was talking about because she obviously worshipped Christ. Her face looked as if she didn’t even know what book in the bible I was talking about. A disgrace to have a cross on your neck and not knowing your scriptures. I proceeded to ask her where the nearest church was.

I saw it from a distance, a chapel to worship God. I ran into another boy who said he was walking to chapel. It was beautiful to see a whole community embracing the Christian religion. Although, the student looked dread to attend his chapel ceremony. He told me that it was a waste of time and he could now stand the scene. Like he didn’t want to go or something.

What a beautiful day Christ has given to us. The blue skies and soft air could only fill my heart with warmth. If only Leah were here so that she could see a school run by Christianity. Orleanna would like this place much better than the Congo. But I like the Congo and where we are. I am happy to see what someone like me can do by building this school. A student told me it was built by missionaries. This is my dream for how I can make a difference in the Congo.

Tata Ndu

Silence all of you! You all should be quiet as I walk across the lush, green grass. I look upon the helpless souls of these arrogant people. As I walk across the field, shoulders back and head held high, I look around to see these worthless beings abusing their homeland as if it were garbage. All these people think that they are too good to pick up after themselves, only I am able to do that. I start to see people looking at me; I sharply turn around and stare back at them. They helplessly turn around, fearing the gaze of the almighty or the words of “What you looking at!” They have no direction, no routine; they all just wait until I tell them what to do. All listening to me not daring to question me, because they all know who I am…TATA NDU!