Diamonds

From The Poisonwood Bible:

“When he spoke of diamonds I naturally thought of Marilyn Monroe in her long gloves and pursey lips whispering “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” My best friend Dee Dee Baker and I have snuck off to see M.M. and Brigitte Bardot both at the matinee (Father would flat-out kill me if he knew), so you see I know a thing or two about diamonds. But when I looked at Anatole’s wrinkled brown knuckles and pinkish palms, I pictured hands like those digging diamonds out of the Congo dirt and got to thinking, Gee, does Marilyn Monroe even know where they come from? Just picturing her in her satin gown and a Congolese diamond digger in the same universe gave me the weebie jeebies. So I didn’t think about it anymore.” (pg. 127)

I saw the movie “Blood Diamond” last summer, but it was not the first time I had heard about this. Also known as a conflict diamond, blood diamonds refer to a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army’s war efforts, or a warlord’s activity. This has usually occurred in Africa, where around two-thirds of the world’s diamonds are extracted.

However, while I was planning on reading Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell sometime this year, I was not at all expecting The Poisonwood Bible to mention the problem. I’m less than 200 pages into the book and don’t know how much blood diamonds are addressed in later chapters, but this section just leaped out at me.

The book takes place in 1959 but was first published in 1998, right about the time that Americans began to take notice of the problem with diamonds. So I wonder if Rachel’s observation would actually be historically accurate, if people actually noticed a problem only six years after Marilyn performed her iconic version of the song Rachel mentions.

Book Mentioned:

  • Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible. New York, NY: Perennial, 1999. Originally published 1998. Print. 543 pgs. ISBN: 0060930535. Source: Purchased.
Photo from Wikipedia Commons. “Diamond mining in Sierra Leone”. Retrieved: February 2, 2011.

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