Critical Essays Kingsolver’s Style

Kingsolver’s native southern Kentucky dialect contributes to the realistic representation of the simple, ordinary life lived by her characters. Taylor and Lou Ann both grew up in rural Kentucky and consider themselves hillbillies. They feel comfortable with each other because they talk alike, using expressions such as “I’ll swan” and “ugly as a mud stick fence.”

Numerous examples of humor throughout the novel prevent the tone from becoming too serious and sad. For example, Lou Ann thinks that her cat has a split personality because “the good cat wakes up and thinks the bad cat has just pooped on the rug.” And Taylor imagines Lou Ann going to a job interview and saying, “Really ma’am, I could understand why you wouldn’t want to hire a dumb old thing such as myself.” Kingsolver’s abilities to relate life realistically with a sense of humor and to create detailed images from her perceptive observations enable her to invoke feelings of empathy for her characters and instill hope for a brighter future.