Parable of the Sower
Parable Of Sower: Ahead Of Its Time
The novel, ‘Parable of Sower’ by Octavia E. Butler was ahead of its time when it was published in 1993. The book is set in a prospect 2020s where the government has buckled and centers the Lauren Olamina, who can feel and perceive pain along with many additional sensations. These feelings, consequentially, are what keep Lauren on her own path to not acknowledge the belief system in place, the system of the elders. As a young adolescent living in the gated community in Los Angeles, she develops a benevolent religion and philosophical religion. Around the time Lauren is first introduced to us, there is increased resource scarcity and elevated levels of poverty, which has led the civil society to revert to relative anarchism. When the community’s security is threatened, Lauren’s home is broken when her family is murdered. From here on forth, Lauren starts to believe in “hyperempathy syndrome” which she’s convinced she got from her drug-addicted mother, who died whilst giving birth to her.
We can see that there is no such thing as freedom in Lauren’s life. When she goes out, she must be armed. After the first shock and devastation that came over Lauren, she decided to travel North together with other survivors to start a new community of her own and practice her own religion and/or faith: Earthseed. The times aren’t ideal as one can imagine. The novel describes class disparity as apparent and visibly failing. They are divided into three classes: poor, middle-class, and the rich. The wealth disparity is tearing the country apart, especially with politicians giving empty promises with how the conditions will “change” and how they will improve all the distress and failing economies. It’s again; much to Butler’s credit, very ahead of its time and proof of the more things change the more they stay the same, fiction, or sadly, non-fiction as these are the problems we are facing. This difference is much more pronounced in Parable of the Sower; Lauren and her community are “fortunate” can have a house in a walled community but no money or resources to accommodate a relocation to a safer. The only people who are fortunate to move are the rich class, and they have the money to pay for their safety as well. People who are that rich live in estates as Lauren calls them: “one big house and lots of shacky little dependencies where the servants [live].” The poor, on the other hand, are not as fortunate. The poor live outside the walls and tend to die young and very painfully like Lauren’s brother Curtis did shortly before her neighborhood burned down.
This disparity is drawn upon heavily in an article by Holly Otterbein titled ‘Sanders casts an eye toward ‘Trump Country.’” Otterbein cynically insinuated an instigation that most democratic voters can foresee if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee. “Trump told working people that he was going to be on their side. He is not on their side (OTTERBEIN 2019)” Sanders said. “By the end of this campaign, I suspect that a number of people who voted for Donald Trump will understand that he is not their friend and that the agenda that we have, which is prepared to take on the billionaire class, is the agenda they will support (OTTERBEIN 2019).” To a Trump supporter, these accusations towards his administration are not going to stick, which there lies the problem. How people can be so blinded to follow a leader that they cannot see is against their best interest. As a liberal voter, Trump has made no attempt to help the poor, and his self-proclaimed accomplishments are trickle-down economics from the Obama administration. Yes, while he did foster more job growth by making companies come back to America, I am often left wonder what the corporate agenda behind this was. That tax breaks are the wealthy receiving to induce such a move. Are the tax breaks they receiving equaling out to the amount of new jobs created? One has left to wonder. Let us not forget the bank bailout that were meant to stimulate the economy. Time has proven that the upper class and associated politicians only looks out for its own self-interest.
Parable Of The Sower And The Bible
Octavia Butler concludes Parable of the Sower with the namesake Bible excerpt: what are the parallels between Lauren’s journey to spread Earthseed and the parabolic farmer’s journey to sow his seed? More specifically, what were the underlying causes for the compact, rocky, thorny, and good soils?
In the parable that Jesus told, the farmer first tossed his seed onto the path that he walked. Because this worn path was made of compacted and infertile soil, pedestrians kicked these seeds and ground them into dust with their heel, while birds snacked on the leftover seeds. These wasted seeds, desperately trying to penetrate the never-plowed path, symbolize how the “seeds of religion” cannot penetrate someone who is as hardened off to the idea of a new religion. Lauren was still living with her Baptist-minister father, Reverend Olamina, when she established Earthseed on April 26 of 2025 (101). Although Lauren Olamina never had the courage, or opportunity, to share Earthseed with him, Reverend Olamina would have been a prime example of a seed tossed to the path. Her father was already wholly dedicated to his Baptist faith and was impenetrable in the eyes of the Earthseed founder. Additionally, Lauren held such respect toward her father that she even got baptized in the first chapter, rather than coming clean about Earthseed (17). Despite her hyperempathy, Lauren states that her father’s emotional wellbeing is the one thing she worked hardest to protect (258).
The next stanza told of the farmer’s seeds falling upon rocky soil, indicating shallow soil with an underlying rock that the plow was unable to crack apart. Seeds that were cast upon this rocky soil withered away because of dehydration and lack of strong roots. This symbolizes someone who has received the message of Earthseed and initially is receptive, however after prosecution or hardship, they quickly forsake the religion. The best example of this in Parable of the Sower would be Taylor Franklin Bankole, one of Lauren’s strongest allies and proponent of the Acorn community. Bankole was skeptical of Earthseed when Lauren first shared it with him, however he experienced moments of interest throughout the second-half of the novel (303). He even supports Earthseed so much as to encourage the settlement on his land in northern California, however through various hardships it is clear that he mostly supports the idea of the commune, not necessarily the religion. In the funeral ceremony held at Acorn in the final moments of the novel, there are readings from both Earthseed and the Bible (372). This is an homage to his Christian faith, something that he dips into throughout the novel.
When the seeds were tossed onto the thorny soil, the weeds grew so fast as to stifle the growth of the farmer’s intended crop. This symbolizes someone who hears the word, but is so concerned with worldly possessions and hardships, that the religion is unable to take seed in their heart. The best example of this in Parable of the Sower is Harry Balter, Lauren’s childhood friend who joins with her and Zahra Moss after Robledo is destroyed. Throughout the journey to Bankole’s plot of land in the north, Harry is resistant to taking Earthseed serious (221). Where Reverend Olamina was resistant because of his Baptist faith and Bankole faltered because of hardships endured, Harry was impenetrable because of his focus on worldly aims. Harry’s main aspiration for the future was to build individual wealth and create something he could own, even despite a lack of good job opportunities (327). Although he joins the Acorn settlement at the end of the novel, Harry was not able to embrace Earthseed because he prioritized building individual success over building up the community or exploring his spirituality.
At the end of Jesus’s parable, the farmer finally threw the seeds onto good soil – which provided an environment to grow in the absence of birds, dehydration, and weeds. In Parable of the Sower, Lauren finds her first patch of good soil with Travis Charles Douglas, an ally who begins the Earthseed settlement with Lauren and Bankole. Travis challenged Lauren when she first introduced him to Earthseed, however his difficult questions and serious demeanor showed that he took Earthseed seriously (260). Harry, on the other hand, refused to have honest dialogue concerning Earthseed and would poke fun at Lauren’s religion whenever an opportunity presented itself – such as when he introduced their traveling group to Allie and Jill Gilchrist (221 and 237, respectively). Despite his initial resistance, Travis, along with Zahra, began to embrace Earthseed as a legitimate belief system and entropy as an admirable god.
Sunlight and Moisture
Just as sunlight and moisture allowed the farmer’s seeds to sprout in the good soil, dire circumstances and the failure of Reverend Olamina’s God allowed the seeds of Earthseed to thrive within Travis’s and Zahra’s hearts. At the end of the novel, the characters have reached the desperation breaking point – their cities have been burned to the ground, their communities have become disjointed and apathetic, their loved ones are lost. Throughout this process of loss and learning, Lauren has continued to develop Earthseed. By the time she introduces the traveling community to Earthseed, their hearts are hungry for hope and purpose. Along with this, Reverend Olamina’s God paved the way for this good soil, because the preachings of the Bible no longer suited the characters’ communities. There were terrible God-produced disasters everywhere – such as a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico – which conflicted with the narrative of a supposedly loving God (18). Most notably, the Bible’s Ten Commandments put adherents in challenging situations, because often stealing and killing were necessary for survival in the Lauren’s California (208). Additionally, the passive preachings of the Bible encouraged the inefficient reactivity, rather than efficient proactivity, that has brought the community to ruin.
Bare Fruit An Hundredfold
One of the most important pieces of this excerpt from the Bible is the final phrase: “bare fruit an hundredfold” (373). Acorn, the final destination for the Earthseed clan, was founded with a pocketful of seeds and a journal full of hope. Diving deeper into the symbolic meaning behind this phrase, this relates to when Lauren watched as her adherents shared the word of Earthseed with Allie and Jill (311). The goal of these seeds planted is that these mature plants will spread their seed without the urging of the farmer; the goal of the religion shared is that these newly dedicated converts will spread their doctrines without the urging of Lauren.
Gender Inequality And Power Of Women in The Handmaid’s Tale And Parable Of The Sower
We are in the 21st century, but gender role is still a critical issue in our society. In our society, men are considered strong; and women are weak. In some place’s women are not allowed to go out for work; they must stay home and take care of children. In our society, we heard many times how women mistreated in some places. Men treat women as a thing that they can use and then throw away. Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale and Octavia E. Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower, we see women were suffering because they considered as a weak. We know that women treated so badly, and they have disfigured life in society. We see mistreatment toward women. One of the reasons might be that men think women can’t fight back. If a woman decides to fight back, nobody will able to stop her. For example, in the Parable of the Sower, Lauren decides to fight against the situation; and she succeeded to survive. Some of the people might think that parable of the sower is not a feminist book, but I think it is a feminist book. Because we see the mistreatment and inequality against women like handmaid’s tale, Lauren’s hyper-empathy and leadership skills show us that women can be strong.
Why These Books Are Feminist?
First of all, what is feminism mean? Feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” In the other words that women must treat equally. We live in a society where gender is not equal. We saw that The Handmaid’s Tale is directly related to women’s rights and suffer, and Parable of the Sower indirectly relate to women suffer. Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is the feminist book because women are the one who suffer in Gilead society. They lost their freedom; they face inequality and abuse. They lost their own identity and known by their husband and masters name. On the other hand, Parable of the Sower is the feminist because the book tries to show us the power of women. It tells us that women can do anything to survive in difficult time. We see that women don’t have any freedom and stay with the boundaries. Time to time we learn about women’s disfigured life and how they treated. Lauren, who is a young black woman change our view about women that they can be strong as men. We see that how Lauren able to survive and create her own religious and lead a new society.
Gender inequality is an essential concern whether it is in The Handmaid’s Tale or Parable of the Sower. In Gilead society, women were not treated equally to men. The male member has more rights or power in their hands. Women are totally under control of them. Women are not allowed to read or write anything. They can’t go outside for work. In the article, the author mentions, Simone de Beauvoir’s theories in The Second Sex. Beauvoir argues that in the patriarchal society, being women defined as men’s ‘Other’. Woman consider as other because they are not a man. Women always seen as opposed to what men are. If men are strong, women are weak. Behman Zarrinjooee’s article “Women’s oppressed and disfigured life in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale” points out that “Men are responsible for all activities; women are confined and are just for men’s use and interest” (67). In other words, women are only a thing for men whom they use for their interest. “… such as prostitution and monthly sexual acts” (Zarrinjooee 68). In the Gilead, women not treated as human but they are a sexual object for men whom they use for their pleasure and needs. Men can do anything they want to do, but women must do what they told to do. In society, the most important roles for women are wives and mother.
In the Parable of the Sower, women stay within the community, while men go beyond the wall for adventure and find work. Women are expected to marry and have children; men are expected to protect themselves and their families. We see that women are mistreated. We see that women are raped regardless of their age. In the novel, we hear the violence toward the girl. Shahnavaz mention that “from “a little girl, naked, maybe seven years old with blood running down her bare thighs”, to Lidia “only eight years old and raped too” to Zehra who cannot tell what happened to her rather calling in you know”( 43). Women are facing violence, no matter if they are seven eight-year-old child or women. In that society women’s suffering seems normal because Lauren knows it what would happen to Zahra when she said you know. They both share the same thread to their womanhood.
Power of Women
In the Gilead, women are considered as they are reproduction machines and women are defined based on their biology and their capacity for reproduction. The author points out that women’s capacity to give birth to a child is defined. “The biological mother in Gilead are women who were forced and educated in Red center to be ready for their role as handmaids before they are placed into commander’s household and do their duty” (Zarrinjooee 69). Red center is the place which teaches them that maternal role is their destiny and they cannot refuse it. In the Handmaid’s tale, Offred and other handmaid accept their role that maternity is their biological destiny. As Offred describe “resign my body freely, to the use of others. They can do what they like with me. I object” (Handmaid’s Tale 282). Offred knows that she is an object for men, and they can do it anything with her, In the Gilead society, men have power over women and their body.
We see that women were treated badly; and they were just a thing for men whom they can use to enjoy. The main reason women were treated like this is “men aware of how easy it is dominate and brutalize women” (shahnavaz 43). In other words, men think that women are weak, and they can easily dominate them and make them do anything they want. They think that in this world women cannot survive without anyone’s help which proved wrong by the Lauren. She proved that women can do anything if they want to do. She is teenage girl, but she is much mature than other kids in her age. Lauren knows that they are in danger while her friend Jonna believes that there is no harm would come on their community. She starts preparing herself emergency kit which safe her from any danger.
When her community destroy, she decides to go north and disguise as a man to safe travel. Even though she hides herself under the men disguise, but she cannot hide her disorder which is called hyper-empathy. Hyper-empathy is considered feminine condition in which people feel another people’s pain. They can feel the pain as it is their own pain. Even though Lauren agree that her disorder is her weakness, but it can see as her strength. Her disorder keeps her realizing that all the people are like her who suffer both physically and emotionally. Lauren’s hyper empathy help her fight against the harsh world and learn new ways to survive. Her disorder made her strong because she wanted to survive and safe. Hyperempathy is her power to survive; not only her but other people who want to survive. her hyper empathy plays a role for her to keep hope and belief toward humanism. Her hyper empathy makes her great leader because she can feel other pain and help other in tough situation.
We see that women were suffering in both books but if women make her mind she can fight back in tough situation and make her way to survive. Parable of the Sower is a feminist book because it shows that women can take care herself and other without anyone’s help. There are other female characters in the book who are strong women. They also face hard times: but they were able to survive.
Prediction Of a Future in Parable Of The Sower
In the Science fiction novel of the Parable of the Sower, author Octavia Butler narrates a disturbing dystopian future, failing government of the United States, set in 2020s, see from the eyes of Lauren a young African American and the Protagonist of the story. This future from the novel was Butler’s very own prediction of what the future will be a future filled with climate change, violence and chaos. Butler’s prediction of a future is almost disturbingly accurate is our society today even though the book The Parable of the Sower is published in the year 1993, but it’s not really surprising because Octavia Butler graduated from Pasadena City College with an associate of arts degree with a focus in history and she knew like all the historians knew that history just repeats itself. Butler’s dystopian future is not far from our modern society today and if we continue in our reckless, corrupt and capitalist driven society where we step on other people with no empathy and big companies take nature for granted to destroy everything for profit and oil, We will likely to end up in this type of future in chaos and there will be no turning back. Here’s my reason why we are moving toward Lauren’s world of 2020’s
First of all because of pollution and climate changed both worlds Our’s and Lauren’s suffer the same environmental problems. The novel starts when Lauren and her step mother are talking about how things are very different from then and now how the stars in the sky are very visible at night then unlike now. Luaren said “I look up at the stars and the deep, black sky “why couldn’t you see the stars”? (Butler 5). Luren and her stepmother can’t see the stars in the sky because of what we know in our modern society is called “Light Pollution”(The inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light – known as light pollution – can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate). According to the CNN newspaper article Loss of the night: Light pollution rising rapidly on a global scale By Manisha Ganguly, Ganguly claims that “excessive artificial light is not good. In a landmark study published last year found that 83% of the world’s population and more than 99% of the US and European populations were affected by light pollution and could not see the stars at night”. Light pollution is a growing problem in our society but no one is really focusing on these problems. We take stars for granted what if we can see them anymore and they are just gone for good like in Lauren’s world of 2020. In the same page lauren’s step mother talked about how big companies are creating more carbon that make their world too hot but they can’t do anything because their poor and does not have the power against those big companies. Lauren’s step mother says ” Lights, progress, growth all those things we’re too hot and too poor to bother” (Butler 5). Big Oil companies today does help to progress our lives but it comes with a lot of consequences like increase in climate change, pollution, deforestation and polluted sea, all of these consequences are sometimes irreversible and going against these big companies are most likely useless because of the power they have. In the article from ST.Louis Post-Dispatch Study: Eight oil companies produce as much pollution as the entire U.S. by Jessica Shankleman Bloomberg claim policy make stopped making laws to protect the environment but instead President Donald Trump to slash environmental regulations and possibly withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement, which promises to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels. This leads to Oil companies expanding more and more and carbon footprints are going off the charts according to the study in the same article “The whole oil and gas industry combined produced about 40 percent of the world’s 832 gigatonnes (832 billion metric tons, or 917.1 billion tons) of carbon dioxide equivalent released in the past three decades, according to CDP.”. Even though we care about the environment we can’t do anything about it because the president allow it and it’s not illegal so like in the novel parable of the sower common citizens have no power to stop these oil companies in polluting the world.
Second, today a lot of people suffer from wealth inequality this result to the growing population of homeless people and rich just keeps getting richer and the poor stays the same, the same thing is happening in lauren’s world of 2020’s but way worse. Lauren explains how people can barely afford their essential for every especially for health care. For the street poor, unable to afford medical care, even a minor wound might be fatal. I am one of the street poor, now. Not as poor as some, but homeless, alone, full of books and ignorant of reality (Butler). Like today people even tho they work hard it’s not enough because they are not making the money they are suppose to. “A lot of people in America don’t realize they might be two checks, three checks, four checks away from being homeless,” said Thomas Butler Jr. Not having enough money in a paycheck is one of the leading causes of homelessness in America. According to New York City’s website, the city’s unique right-to-shelter mandate ensures “temporary emergency shelter” for every man, woman and child who is eligible, every night. But not in the City of Angels, where two-thirds of the country’s 40,000 homeless people are without shelter.
Lastly our world’s growing violence and gun violence can be comparable or be very similar to lauren’s world of 2020, Lauren explains how her their father told them that in their world they should have the knowledge of how to handle a gun on else they will likely be killed outside by a person with a firearm “Armed people do get killed most often in crossfires or by snipers but unarmed people get killed a lot more often” (Butler 38). This part of the article can be comparable in newspaper article from the New York Times Should Teachers Be Armed With Guns? By Natalie Proulx according to the author President Trump suggested giving teachers guns because of the increasing number of school shootings that result to a lot of death and giving the teacher guns will lessen the fatality of the incidents than actually making gun laws. In chapter 20 Lauren explains more about the violence that she sees happening outside ” In some places, the rich are escaping by flying out in helicopters. The bridges that are still intact — and most of them are — are guarded either by the police or by gangs. Both groups are there to rob desperate, fleeing people of their weapons, money, food, and water — at the least. The penalty for being too poor to be worth robbing is a beating, a rape, and/or death. The National Guard has been activated to restore order, and I suppose it might. But I suspect that in the short term, it will only add to the chaos. What else could another group of well-armed people do in such an insane situation” (butler 246),
Crime And Violence in Parable Of The Sower
Octavia Butler’s novel Parable Of The Sower paints a horrific picture of how the future potentially could turn out. We see Americas dark future, climate change, inequality, crime and violence have destroyed society. The basic human necessities are now expensive commodities. With this amount of chaos spreading through the world, savage human nature has begun to come out and societal progress is regressing. Butler sheds light on the true nature of humans through repetitive portrayals of crime and violence throughout the story against communities and bystanders who are living in the chaotic world. Our view of humans have always been shaped by the “lens” at which we view it from, when that “lens” shifts so does our perception of humans Is true human nature to be selfish and competitive to survive. The lens in which we view humans in Parable of the Sower is plagued by violence and crime due to the depletion of natural resources which creates conflict and competition bringing back the true human nature of selfishness and competition. While everyone isn’t affected this way, Parable of the Sower warns us about the potential societal reverse by depicting a world afflicted by brutality. A world subject to stealing, rape, murder, drugs, and canibalism. Butler shows that the inherent evil and selfishness of humans when under pressure through motifs such as guns, drugs, and stealing.
Butler portrays a world in which weapons play a huge role in the lives of survivors through the motifs of guns. There are a few couple perspectives you can view guns in the novel. Guns are used for protection, they have the ability to create opportunity whether good or bad, and they could be used for safety and intimidation. Guns can be harmful even though it is necessary at times, but will benefit some. Similarly to that of how Butler view violence. Regardless of their feelings on guns it is an absolute necessity for survival in Parable of the Sower. In the novel there are several examples there are several examples of guns being used for evil, catering to the selfishness of humans. As early on as chapter four an innocent life is taken, three year old Amy Dunn is shot and killed by a stray bullet behind her own community gates. It states “Amy Dunn is dead…. Someone shot Amy right through the metal gate it had to be an accidental hit because you can’t see through our gate from the outside”. As stated before, guns are mainly used for evil purposes within the novel, in this case someone shot at the gate to show their frustration and possible create an opportunity to get inside. As a result a three year old was murdered. Not only are guns literal powerful weapons but they are also empowering to the user.
Take Keith for example he wanted to be trained to use a gun but was too young so when he stole one and went out into the community he came back thinking he is far superior than others and that inevitably led to his downfall. Keith is just yet another example of a person using a gun for malice acts. In chapter ten Keith, laurens younger brother leaves the community and begins a life of crime, murdering and stealing from people. He states “What you think I was just going to do? I didn’t have no money. Just had that gun, Mama’s .38” (p.108). Here is a prime example of the selfishness of humans when in times of catastrophe. Keith just only 14 years old having no money nor food uses his gun as an opportunity to murder and steal from someone in the same situation. After killing this man Keith states “I felt nothing after that” he lost all remorse for people and their struggles as long as he benefited from it. In the world Butler was portraying it’s clear that the idea of natural selection would soon take place clouding the minds humans making their competitive and selfish nature arise. Not everyone person in this novel uses guns for evil an example of that is the protagonist Lauren who only uses guns when necessary as a means of protection. In chapter fourteen Lauren was tackled by a drug addict who pulled her down.
Naturally Lauren shot the drug addict to protect herself (pg.154) This is why Lauren is different and represents the protective aspect which guns offer. She does not kill for her own selfish gain rather she only uses the gun in extreme situations to protect herself and her followers. There are several reasons people use guns and that goes for both Butler’s chaotic world and our real world, one thing is for sure in Lauren’s world a gun is an absolute necessity for survival.
Not only do guns play an important role in Butler’s work but also Butler shows how vastly society can be influenced through the motif of drugs. In the novel there are two main drugs discussed, these drugs were developed for different uses but were abused by society these drugs warp the view people have of the world to help ease what they are going through but making them extremely dangerous. Due to the world’s situation many people look to drugs to solve their problems similarly to the world we live in people use drugs to get away from reality.
The main drug I will be discussing is Pyro or ro, this drug makes it extremely pleasurable to watch fire burn. The people that take these drugs are referred to as paints they shave all their hair off and paint their skin either red,yellow,blue, or green. With resources being scarce and the world going to shit, many people lose all hope and begin to use drugs to ease their pain. The huge problem within lauren’s world is how dangerous these users become. In chapter fourteen Lauren states “Last night when I escaped my neighborhood, it was burning. The houses, the trees, the people: Burning” (pg.154). In this instance Pyros destroyed the gate shielding Lauren’s community. They raided everything murdering everyone and lighting everything they could on fire purely for pleasure. They have become psychotic the little resources her community had we destroyed and no one could benefit from them now all due to a drug addict act to lose themselves from reality and feel pleasure from others pain. In this kind of world people give up all hope and that exactly what these pyros stand for…. Lost hope. The world that they live in was not desirable so they took drugs to make themselves feel better at other peoples expense another way in which humans are selfish in times of terror. The drug addicts in the novel are the clearest antagonist we see in the world butler portrays. The world is already suffering from lack of resources and the climate changing drastically but that isn’t the worst thing Lauren and her community have to watch out for, it is humanity driving more and more into madness.
In the novel crime is at an all time high due to the selfish nature humans regressed back to due to the current state of the world. Butler portrays this through the motif of stealing. With resources and hope at an all time low many people turn to stealing to survive whether it is for a means of survival or out of pure malice it strikes laurens community of robledo several times. In chapter 6 two thieves attempted to still rabbits and fruit from one of Lauren’s neighbors they were caught quickly and could not make away with any of the goods. Humans will compete with other humans dealing with the same struggle they are to be better off. To deprive someone else of their own food when it is so scarce is horrible it only gets worse as the story progresses, the thieves become more violent and will kill for such small resources. In chapter eleven butler gives us an instance at which the thieves were unnecessarily violent it says “After the thieves used the crowbar on the door, they walked into the kitchen and used it on Doratea Cruz’s seventy-five-year-old grandmother. The old lady was a light sleeper and had gotten in the habit of getting up at night and brewing herself a cup of lemon grass tea”. These thieves broke into their house and killed an innocent old lady. This shows just how dark and sick humans can be when they are pursuing something they want. Whatever they were looking for they were they did not get because they were shot and killed regardless of them killing cruz’s grandmother they surely would have been shot. The world they live in anything resource you can get your hands on is worth killing for and that is horrific to think about.
Butler’s Parable of the Sower highlights the nature of humans when society begins to crumble and natural resources become limited threatening their survival. The repetitive acts of crime and violence against the community of Robledo portray the potential dark side within humans. Butler’s warns us through the acts of characters within the story that everyone is violent and will do whatever it takes to survive and in a sense that is the key to survival doing whatever it takes. Butler uses a theme of violence throughout the entire novel and effective way she portrays violence are different perspectives one can view it similarly to the use of guns previously described. Violence is harmful, at times it is necessary, and it is beneficial to some, and it is a necessity to survival. Butler’s portrayal of violence and crime in this sci-fi novel urges the reader to examine the true nature of humans. Humans are inherently evil, not everyone in the novel acts upon their darkness within, they are all born with such capabilities of destruction, with the world crumbling, society soon fell with it.
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1993. Print.
- P. Sarah, J. Brittany. “Gaining and Possessing Power in Parable of the Sower” Women’s Studies & Feminist Research and English Studies, Western University. Published. October 16, 2017. Retrieved from: https://girlhoodinyadystopianfiction.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/gaining-and-possessing-power-in-parable-of-the-sower-brittany-j-and-sarah-p/
Representations Of Hope in Octavia Butler’s “Parable Of The Sower” And Ursula’s “The Dispossessed”
A confident desire for change, generally that is hope; it does not matter the kind of change one would be hoping for, neither does it matter the circumstances that have made them want that change. All that matters is the confident desire that the change will happen. It, therefore, follows that hope can be represented in different ways, depending on the circumstances, of which some circumstances can be very adverse, while others can just be mild. This distinction can be clearly seen in the two novels “The Parable of The Sower” and “The Dispossessed”. This essay will give details on the comparison between the representation of hope in the two novels in the aspects of the circumstances whose changes are hoped for in the novels, the perspectives of the main characters concerning hope, as well as which novel represents a better version of hope.
Beginning with “The Parable of The Sower”, Lauren and her friends are surrounded by a hopeless environment full of violence and deaths, poverty, corruption, poor sanitation and suicide cases among other disturbing occurrences. To make matters worse, she is suffering from a hyper-empathy syndrome, a condition whereby she can feel the pain and suffering of the people that surround her. I can easily envision the burden that she is carrying; it is actually unbearable for a normal person like me. In chapter two she is riding her bike alongside her friends and their families around the city and all they see are corpses, injured children, and armed men. There are cases of theft and rape such as that of Mrs. Sims who later commits suicide, probably because the burden of her family being slaughtered and her rape became unbearable. The government itself makes the matters even worse; in chapter 3 the newly elected president promises to suspend laws dealing with minimum wage, environment protection as well as worker protection, claiming that it would stimulate the economy (Butler, 2014). This is the situation in the life of Lauren and her friends; the air they breathe is just made of vices and disaster. Amidst all this, it is intriguing how Lauren takes these circumstances; when it seems to the reader that there is no more hope, that the mess is too much to be mended, she has a better perspective of it, a greater heart to still think positively about everything. She always has a way of convincing herself that the situation is short-lived; in a nutshell, she is a replica of hope in the novel. When everyone else thinks of God as a judge or just a king, and her brother thinks of God as “the grown-ups’ way of getting children to do what they want”, Lauren is envisioning God as none of the above descriptions; she is in a way seeing hope in the God she knows; this can even be seen from her favorite book in the Bible, the book of Job. It gets to her consciousness after the death of Mrs. Sims that her perspective of God is that God is the change she is hoping for. As other people see themselves in the societal mess, Lauren is confident that she can do something about that mess, through God, because she says that human beings and God can mutually shape each other.
As for the case of the second novel, “The Dispossessed”, Shevek is observed to be the bearer of hope of the difficult situation between the rival sister planets, Urras and Anarres; whereby the two worlds have different ways of governance and beliefs. Urras is a technologically advanced planed that has social problems because they have no structured governance and has social injustices, while Anarres is a strong planet when it comes to human equality and relations, however it lacks innovation and non-human connections: the two planets have been in rivalry for a long time and they seem not to recognize the past that they shared together; neither do they think of a possible future in which they can coexist together with no rivalry; however, Shevek does not see a reason why this rivalry should continue. Shevek’s brilliant scientific ideas are shunned in Anarres, yet they are well embraced in Urras.
Shevek sees the possibility of changing the situation between these two planets for the better good; he has great hope that the change he wants is very possible and attempts to bring the change by inventing a technology that enables instant communication across any distance, and spreading it to every nation and society, because he believes the communication can help in getting rid of the rift between the planets. This initiative is almost interfered with when he goes to Urras; when he realizes the ill intent that the A-Io government has concerning his theory, he escapes the trap before its maturity. His hope does not die, he ensures that the technology does not fall into the wrong hands, and finally he hands his complete theory to the right hands, requesting for it to be broadcasted to all nations (Hardy, 2012). Shevek had the choice of keeping the theory to himself when he realizes that everywhere he goes to does not deserve the change he is trying to bring; however, that is not his line of thinking. He still believes that there is light coming at the end of the tunnel, and fights to the maximum of his abilities to ensure that the change he confidently aspires for is achieved.
Comparing the two novels, the “The Dispossessed” provides a more hopeful vision than “The Parable of The Sower”: the protagonist in the first novel bears hope for a change in the situation between the two planets; what makes his vision more hopeful is that he has strategies to bring this change. He has plans on how he can contribute to the change he wants; his hope is not just in plain words. He has actions to back up his vision, and he does his best to ensure that his plans are achieved. This is not the same case as that of Lauren in “The Parable of The Sower”: it is clearly observable that Lauren aspires for a change in the condition of the society she lives in; however, we are not told of any strategies she has put in place to see to it that the change she hopes for is achieved. The best we see is when she notices the fact that there is something she can do about the whole matter.
In conclusion, a vision of hope is just the beginning. When someone aspires for a change, there has to be something they can do to facilitate that change: without a plan or a way forward, the vision will simply die because it needs to be made real through our actions. A hope for better things should drive us to bring the change.
Depiction Of Empathy in Parable of The Sower
Empathy: A quality or a fault?
Empathy is a quality that most human beings consider a weakness rather than a strength. In a world where everyone is concerned with his or her own well being, it seems that being understanding other’s feelings is an unnecessary virtue to have. In Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Lauren is born with a disease called hyper-empathy. Her hyper-empathy enables her to feel other people’s pleasure and pain. While living in a dystopian society where survival is the primary concern, her hyper empathy is like a double edged-sword. Though she can empathize with other’s struggles, this often weakens her physically and emotionally, thus putting her life at greater risk and danger. However, throughout the book, it is demonstrated that being hyper empathetic can actually be useful. Lauren’s disorder highlights the significance of being empathetic in a world where individuals are distraught and living in terrible conditions. Throughout the novel Parable of the Sower, Butler suggests empathy can be a positive trait to have and perhaps human beings should learn to be more empathetic as it can effectively end conflict and unite people.
Lauren’s hyper- empathy syndrome serves to demonstrate that empathy can create bonds between different individuals. When she is on the run with Harry and Zahra, they are mainly worried about themselves and trust no one. Lauren is smart enough to know when to help others and when not to. Although Harry and Zahra are less likely to help others, Lauren’s syndrome of hyper empathy makes her prone to help people who are in need. In one instance, Harry, Zahra, and Lauren come across a couple with a baby. After much deliberation, Lauren asks the man of the family if they want to join them, but he questions her. She replies, “Why not. We’re natural allies—the mixed couple and the mixed group. Come join us if you want to. Five is better than two” (208). She notices that the couple is all alone and could use help and company. Travis is suspicious of her motives, and later on realizes that she has him and his family’s best interest at heart. Lauren senses that the couple—Natividad and Travis— is not skilled in living on their own, so she wants to help them. She also sees that they have a child, which makes them more vulnerable to being attacked. Knowing that she is equipped to help them, Lauren decides to provide them with protection. If Lauren was selfish and did not feel bad for the couple, she would have left them and they most likely would have died. Interestingly enough, Lauren is the only one who feels bad about leaving the couple by themselves. This illustrates the benefit of being empathetic. Empathy allows for bonds to be created that normally would not occur. The chance of a couple with a child pairing up with a teenager and a married couple is not a common alliance. Butler uses Lauren’s character to prove that empathy is necessary to the survival of others. Lauren’s responsiveness to other’s feelings creates bonds that last until the very end. Being cognizant of other’s feelings creates a bond that strengthens a group of people. They can rely on each other to survive in times of despair. They are able to relate with one another’s struggles and can easily help each other. Empathy is powerful enough to strengthen relationships between people and saves lives of many, which proves that empathy is a great virtue to have.
As mentioned previously, empathy holds the power to solidify relationships. When people are in a secure group where they feel their feelings and needs are considered, they are more likely to stay together and trust one another. Other individuals see Lauren’s selflessness when she endangers her own life to save another. Although Lauren can still feel physical pain, she learns to control it when she saves Travis and Natividad’s baby from being eaten by a dog. In that instant, she kills without hesitation, “I stopped, slipped the safety, and as the third dog went in toward the baby, I shot it” (209). Although she knew that shooting the dog would cause her pain as well, her desire to save a helpless creature was greater than saving herself from pain. Since she is aware that pain weakens her, she disregards it for a moment and thinks about the safety of the child. After shooting the dog, she instantly feels pain, but is willing to sacrifice her well being for another individual. If more people were like Lauren, less people would be hurt, dead, or in terrible circumstances. It is evident that Lauren’s exaggerated case of empathy has saved lives. If she had left Natividad, Travis, and Dominic all alone, they would have ended up dead, which shows how her act of empathy is a positive thing. The other characters learn from Lauren, that through understanding each other’s suffering and longings, they can help each other overcome any obstacle. Characters who are apathetic in the novel tend to end up alone and are in greater danger. As seen in the book, Lauren is constantly in danger, but manages to survive even with her hyper empathy syndrome. She is a role model whether or not other characters realize it because she displays courage even though she feels everyone else’s fear and pain in the story.
Octavia Butler uses Lauren’s hyper empathy to make a social commentary about our cruel, selfish nature. After Lauren’s brother Keith is killed, she questions the moral compass of other people, “If hyper empathy syndrome were a more common complaint, people couldn’t do such things. They could kill if they had to, and bear the pain of it or be destroyed by it. But if everyone could feel everyone else’s pain, who would torture?” (115). As Lauren says, if people were more empathetic, less people would be suffering or dying. It is important to note that Keith was tortured to death, which demonstrates the lack of mercy people have on a human life, especially the life of a child. If the people responsible for Keith’s death had felt the physical pain that Keith felt when he was tortured, they probably would not have killed him. Butler tries to convey that if people were like Lauren, they would be less likely to inflict pain and suffering upon other people since they would be able to feel the pain they give unto others. In reality, we do not feel other’s physical pain, but the exaggerated example illustrates how apathetic individuals can be in a world where everyone is trying to survive on their own. Perhaps Butler also includes this example in her story to imply that if we continue to be apathetic and our world does turn upside down, we may end up miserable, alone, and helpless.
. Lauren’s hyper empathy plays an important role in determining the ending of the story. Due to her extreme empathy, she creates a community of people who are brought together. Someone with her disorder would most likely feel hopeless and powerless, but Lauren is different. She realizes that her hyper empathy may actually serve as a positive contribution to her community, “I’ve never thought of my problem as something that might do some good before, but the way things are, I think it would help. I wish I could give it to people” (115). Although she feels a great amount of suffering, she is still hopeful that her community can change for the better. She sees that people can change if they were more like her. She also realizes that her hyper empathy enables her to bring people together, which is key to everyone’s survival. In the beginning of the story Lauren is afflicted because she sees her hyper empathy as something negative, but with the help of her extreme empathy, she is able to lead Harry, Zahra, Travis, Natividad, and many others to survival. This allows her to embrace her hyper empathy as she sees the strength it gives her to continue to fight for her and other people’s survival. Empathy is powerful because it allows for greater things to happen. It can be best described as a domino effect. Empathy creates bonds, which creates trust among everyone, which enhances the probability of everyone in Lauren’s group to survive.
Instead of feeling like Lauren has to carry a burden, she is empowered and finds strength in her disorder. Her ability to feel other people’ pain fuels her desire to see change in her world. Due to her strong empathy, she creates the religion of Earthseed to bring about change. Instead of becoming hopeless, she seeks the opportunity to share her beliefs and thoughts to change people for the better. Although it terrifies her at first, she feels that Earthseed needs to be shared with others, “ It won’t let me go. Maybe…Maybe it’s like my sharing: One more weirdness; one more crazy, deep-rooted delusion that I’m stuck with. (26). She compares Earthseed to her hyper empathy to show that perhaps her beliefs are crazy, but they keep recurring and are becoming real, just like her hyper empathy syndrome. She understands that people may think she is crazy, but perhaps it is her crazy thoughts that are actually worth listening to. Earthseed is a positive outcome of her hyper empathy syndrome. She believes she can create change, unlike other people. Many of the people around her stay complacent to the problems going on. Ironically enough, even her father, who is supposed to be a kind, loving, priest, does not show empathy for other people. Lauren is the opposite of many other characters who only care about themselves. Butler does this to show how our world does not encourage us to be compassionate towards other people. She uses Lauren’s character to make a statement: we need more empathy because it can bring people together and can end or lessen problems in our world.
Lauren’s empathy for the characters in the story has the ability to encourage others to show empathy as well. In one instance, a family is attacked and killed. Thankfully the baby survives, but he does not stop crying since he misses his mother. Since Natividad has her own child, she can imagine how panicked the child feels without his mother. Knowing how anxious the child is, she shows empathy for him, “At that moment, Natividad took the new child, and in spite of his age, gave him one breast and Dominic the other. (252). This gesture is a sign of empathy shown by Natividad. She understands how important it is to help creatures that cannot take care of themselves. Since Lauren rescued her child once, Natividad emulates Lauren by taking the child under her wing and protecting him. Natividad is a mother herself, so she feels sorry for the child who is now motherless. If people were more empathetic, everyone would be working together in order to survive. The mentality of “every man for himself” is not effective as it creates divisions and competition to survive. Lauren and her disorder are proof that empathy is not only a good trait to have, but is key to survival when there are problems.
Ocatvia Bulter’s novel Parable of the Sower highlights the drawbacks and advantages empathy has on human beings. When individual lives are at risk, it seems that having empathy does not necessarily help one’s survival. When it comes down to life and death, humans are primarily concerned with their own lives and their loved ones. However, in the novel, Lauren—along with other sharers—seem to survive just fine with their hyper empathy syndrome. Octavia Butler does this on purpose to show the readers that perhaps empathy can bring people together, which can ultimately lead to ending conflict. In the novel, being empathetic seems to be more of a positive trait, especially with Lauren as the greatest source of empathy. She embodies empathy as a quality that sets her apart from other characters in the story. Ultimately, Lauren feels that her hyper empathy syndrome is not a disease she has to live with, but a virtue that gives her hope, and power to survive a dystopian world.
The Powerful Symbolism Of Water
Water is the most abundant source of life on this planet. Not only did the first living beings emerge from its depths, but it also possesses the ability to keep every living thing alive. Powerful as it is, water takes on whole new meanings in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. In this novel, the journal entries of Lauren Olamina tell her story as she, literally and figuratively, navigates the world around her. The dystopian America Lauren lives in is practically void of a reliable source of water, especially in Lauren’s case as she lives in southern California, an area known for its long periods of drought. These circumstances highlight the symbolism of water in the novel. In Butler’s Parable of the Sower, water represents wealth, life, and safety.
There are many instances in this novel where water is a symbol for wealth. The setting of this story is one where a majority of the population is extremely impoverished. Due to this and the inflation of the failing economy, water has become an expensive necessity, and clean water a luxury. According to Lauren, “water now costs several times as much as gasoline” and “is as good as money” (Butler 18, 201). Only those who have money are able to drink water, and that water is not guaranteed to be safe unless it is from a commercial water station. As a consequence of this, people that have the ability to afford water are considered wealthy, and usually despised. Lauren explains that“[y]ou’re supposed to be dirty now. If you’re clean, you make a target of yourself” (18). To the poor and thirsty people around Lauren, if one has the option of cleaning themselves with water, they are trying to show off how much better and wealthier they are than the people around them.
Water is also a symbol for life. Heavy themes such as poverty, racism, and violence are all prevalent during this novel. However, there are certain times when lightheartedness and general liveliness can seep into the story, usually attached to scenes concerning water. For instance, when it begins to rain, after raining for six years, Lauren describes how she feels when the rain hits her skin: “It was so wonderful. How can [Cory] not understand that? It was so incredible and wonderful” (48). Lauren is characterized as a serious and intelligent girl, yet in this moment, seeing the water outside her house, she becomes a new person. Disregarding the consequences and disobeying her stepmother, Lauren stands outside until she is soaked in dirty rain water. These actions are not indicative of someone who is trying their best to be seen as an adult and to survive in a dangerous world, they are the actions of a teenager who wants to enjoy her life. A similar event occurs later in the novel when Lauren, Harry, and Zahra are at a beach. They are completely surrounded by potentially dangerous strangers in unknown territory, but this is the first time any of them had seen the ocean, so again Lauren disregards the consequences of her actions and actually lives her life. Her and Zahra, neither knowing how to swim, walk into the ocean and “threw water on each other…let the waves knock [them] around, and laughed like crazy people,” Lauren even claims it was the “best time [she’s] had since [they] left home” (206). Both these scenes are instances where characters that are usually burdened by countless tragedies and traumas are able to enjoy their life, surrounded by water.
In the novel, water additionally represents safety for the characters. Until the end of the story, the characters are never in a place completely void of danger. However, there are certain points where the characters are in places of temporary tranquility, places that are associated with water. The first place is the ocean. When the group arrives there, Lauren describes the scene:
…the narrow strip of sand was crowded with people, though they managed to stay out of each other’s way. They had spread themselves out and seemed far more tolerant of one another than they had during our night in the hills. I didn’t hear any shooting or fighting. There were no dogs, no obvious thefts, no rape. Perhaps the sea the cool breeze lulled them. (205)
This scene is a deep contrast to the night the group experienced on the hills, where there was shootings throughout the night and fighting constantly. But, at the ocean, there is an odd sense of understanding among the various groups, as if no one wants to disturb the peace the water created. Consequently, the characters feel safe here, safe enough for them to play in the ocean and enjoy themselves. The other place the characters experiences some safety was at the lake. Once they arrived at the lake, Lauren remarked that none of the people living there shot at them or bothered them at all as they made their way to a campsite (259). Additionally, the group was able to find a remote campsite where they could relax safely. Lauren even had the opportunity to spend all day “talking, writing, reading, and making love to Bankole” (268). Both the time spent at the ocean and the time spent at the lake are indicative about how being surrounded by water calms even the most barbaric people, creating a safer environment.
The symbol of water in Parable of the Sower represents a variety of positive and life-sustaining factors. Because of its high price, those that can afford the basic necessity of water are seen as wealthy. Moreover, the tranquility created by water allows for the characters to relax safely and enjoy themselves. Not only is water essential to survive, but to these characters, water is essential for doing anything more than surviving. Throughout the story, the water presents the characters with outlets to escape the severity of the world around them and just live.
Analysis of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler Through the Characteristics of Dystopian Literature
Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler, conveys many similar topics from history, such as slavery, not having equal rights, and decrease of civilization, which is what makes it diffcult to put the book under one genre classification. Regardless, Butler is able to fit the literature of dystopia into her book. Many different criteria and characteristics of dystopian literature, such as a collapsed civilization, lack of justice, and restriction of freedom and information, are seen throughout the book. In addition to that, the author is able to make the opinion of the book clear to lead the reader to figure out how it’s going to be a future of a real world. A utopia is an imagined place where everything is known to be perfect.The problems that occur in a utopian world are war, disease, poverty, oppression, discrimination, and inequality. The opposite of utopia is dystopia which is perfectly portrayed in the book. A dystopia is defined as an imagined place that is not perfect that consists of everything being unpleasant or bad. In the Parable of the Sower Butler discusses the different kinds of social issues and trends in the United States, from the 1980s and 1990s, and pushes them forward by thirty or forty years. The problems that are occuring have no solutions and become worse each day.
Lauran is one of the main characters who writes everything happening in a journal entry. She has a condition in which she is able to feel the pain of those around her. Her family is staying in a community named Robeldo which is locked with a gate around it. People in the community build a wall to be able to protect themselves from the crimes happening outside their community. Those who are living in the community think they are safe from the dangers happening in the real world. The idea of that is not very true because in the book the community is being attacked more than one time through the book until one day in chapter 14 the whole community is burned down. One of the problems in the century they are in, many people started creating more gates to protect their community. The people in the communities don’t have access to the outside world which restricts their freedom and leaves them to only interpret to what is happening in their community. The environmental disasters that happen in their community caused a scarcity of natural resources.
In their community there has been no rain for years and people will do anything just to get water. Those who are wealthy are the only ones able to afford taking a bath and washing their clothes. The police and firefighters who are known to help for free are corrupt and must be paid for their services. The people living in the communities do not have an idea of what different animals exist. In chapter four, the parents in the Robledo community take their children outside to practice shooting. While the kids are shooting they are attacked by dogs leaving the kids very confused because they have never introduced to what they were. Lauren asks Aura, “You’ve never seen one before have you?’ She shook her head”. Lauren has some knowledge of what dogs were, but Aura never even heard of such an animal. Lauren explains to her how she knew what they were ‘I’ve read books about them being intelligent, loyal pets, but that’s all in the past, dogs now are wild animals who will eat a baby if they can’. Lauren explains this after two characters were attacked. If the people in the community were informed of what is happening in the outside world they would know about other animals. The discovery of normal traits of animals in the future fits into the dystopian world. One of the major problems throughout the book is the humanity the people of the community do not have. Many people are attacking other people and killing them. In the book Lauren states, ‘It looked so peaceful, and yet people out there were trying to kill each other, and no doubt succeeding. Strange how normal it’s become for us to lie on the ground and listen while nearby, people try to kill each other”. Lauren reflects to this as she is listening to a gun battle. Other than killing people, humans are eating other humans. In this environmental period a dystopia is perfectly displayed.Many people start to starve because of the low food supply. This is the time of where the government services start to collapse. Even though the examples in Parable of the Sower fit perfectly in the dystopian literature, it also fits into the theme of Afrofuturism. The book is a science fiction which is set in the future that includes different parts of black history and culture which match the exact meaning of Afrofuturism.
The community Lauren lives in is the only one that has people from different races. Lauren who is black has white friends, but knows that black girls like her should not date white men and only choose someone from the same race. Outside of her community, Lauren knows that traveling with white people can cause negative and violent stuff to her group. Even though the book is after the abolition of slavery it talks about different kinds of slavery that happen in our society, and indicates that those forms of slavery still exist and affect many kinds of people. As the years pass it shows how race relations with class differences have divided the people in a way that it caused community of Robledo to come to an end. The future of society, from the perspective of Butler, depends only on if people are able to set aside their differences and work together, and if not, the future may look as how the community in the book turned out to be. In conclusion, even though Butler brings together many different themes into the book she is still able to fit it all under the category of dystopia. The different events happening in the book causes there to more than one theme. One of the messages she is trying to spread with the book is that our world could end up just like the Parable of the Sower’s world.
Analysis Of The Topic Of Religion In Parable Of The Sower By Octavia Butler
The novel, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, takes place in a post-apocalyptic society where there is little to no hope left for the remaining survivors on Earth. Many people have given up on saving the world and now result to taking what’s left of it. However, the few people who do believe in a better life, including protagonist Lauren Olamina, all share one common ideology, religion. Illustrating religion as the last hope against the looming darkness of the dying world, Octavia Butler emphasizes the character development of religious believers and non-believers in Parable of the Sower to represent the differences in lifestyles and choices between them; ultimately making the argument that religion is the driving force in which gives us humans a purpose and reason to prosper, or in this case rebuild the world. Lauren’s relationship with religion sprouted at a very young age. Her father, a local reverend, instilled his Christian beliefs upon her such as many parents do to develop good morals within their children.
However, Lauren has since abandoned her father’s beliefs and now devotes herself to her personal religion, Earthseed. Earthseed, a work-in-progress, is founded on the belief that “God is change”. Earthseed says that God shapes us as we change, but we are also able to return the favor and directly change God. In addition, Earthseed claims that God exists to change the universe, and paradoxically the universe exists to change God. Earthseed is a religion in the novel, even if hardly anyone in the world knows or acknowledges it. A religion does not need a minimum number of followers, but simply one person engaging in and sharing it with the world. The reason for Lauren giving up on Christianity is not clearly stated. It seems as though she has no hard feelings towards it, she just prefers to focus more on reality as she knows it rather than place false hope into unforeseen entities. Lauren never denies religion or shows any signs of being an atheist, she certainly believes there is something more going on in the universe and the novel as a whole seems to be a coming of age story for Lauren and her development of Earthseed.
Octavia Butler doesn’t always portray religion in the best way and often challenges it throughout the novel. However, it can be seen in the characters who hold religion dear to their hearts that their faith is the much-needed foundation for the reconstruction of the broken world. It seems that almost every character who holds a belief in some sort of religion, are also the only people left on Earth actively making it a better place, or at least trying. In order to show how each believer will achieve their common goal of restrengthening the world, the main characters’ purposes, in which they will strive towards, are revealed through their religions and actions. Lauren’s father’s purpose is being a teacher. He works tirelessly as a full-time professor, dean, pastor, and leader in their community. He not only teaches the youth how to read and write at the local school, but he is also a teacher of morality. He teaches those around him through words and actions on how to maintain a solid community and relationships with others. It is safe to say that most of his actions are religiously motivated, and it’s not a coincidence that his actions are unselfish and out of love for his family, community, and the overall good of the world around him. He is the epitome of a leader during times like the one they’re in, and without him, Lauren would not have the role model and friend she needed as a child. Similar to her father, Lauren is also a believer trying to pick up the pieces of a broken world. However, instead of using Christianity as her main source of reasoning, Lauren makes decisions based on what’s best for Earthseed. Lauren treats Earthseed as if it is her child, and will do anything to protect it because she believes Earthseed could be the savior of humanity. Lauren can be seen as a type of prophet in her new religion. Similar to many other prophets from different types of religions, Lauren is a leader of a group walking into the unknown wanting to share and grow her faith with the world. Lauren strives to find “good ground” to create Earthseed communities such as Acorn, and develop a population that will join her in creating a better life, and ultimately “take root among the stars”.
Contrastly, the characters in the novel who don’t belong to any sort of religion seem to have accepted the fate of the Earth and don’t strive to improve the general quality of life. The pyromaniacs embody this persona and have no regard for anyone or anything aside from feeling short term pleasure by burning the world to the ground. In addition, Keith Olamina, Lauren’s brother, believes “God is the adults’ way of trying to scare you into doing what they want”, and he certainly fits the theme of non-believers who don’t care about the well-being of society. Keith’s role in the novel is short, but meaningful. Keith, with money as his incentive, chooses to constantly sneak out of the gated town and get involved in dangerous activities against his father’s wishes. While he was trying to do what he believed was good for his family, Keith was unable to realize that he put his entire community at risk, and ultimately led to its demise. Characters such as these have tunnel vision and seem to have no sense of responsibility for the greater good of society but would rather take advantage of the broken world and deprive it of its last chances of recovering from such a plight. Octavia Butler continues to show that religion is the only thing keeping society together, and those who approach life with religion in their corner understand that it’s up to people like them to save humanity. In a dystopian world, religion is the hope that people need and cling on to desperately to survive.
While religion seems to be the motive for bringing the world back together, it is also possible that religion could be hindering society’s ability to progress. Wasting days at Sunday masses or using resources and money for baptisms are a few examples of how religion may seem to have a negative effect on the outlook of society. The time and energy that Lauren’s community spends on organizing and putting on religious events could very well be used to help one another prosper and grow their community. Religion forces them to work towards achieving their ultimate goal of gaining access to heaven, but is it really worth it to spend their lives working towards something that may not even be true when people all around them are struggling to survive in this life? While religion may seem as though it could be a false hope and a waste of precious resources, losing it would leave humans with no purpose or reason to do anything but survive, such as Keith or the pyromaniacs. If there is no goal or something to work towards and everything is meaningless, then what is the point of doing anything? Even Earthseed, a religion that doesn’t believe in an afterlife, still has a heaven. However, this heaven is attainable during one’s life and “the destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars”. Religion pushes us to create a better life for ourselves, and a better future for the generations to come. Even if the religions in Parable of The Sower are false, they are necessary because in achieving their ultimate goals, society will also begin to be restored. Parable of the Sower offers a potential look into our near future and serves as a warning to all of humanity. The horrors of this dying world are explicitly shown by the harsh conditions Octavia Butler displays throughout the novel, leaving many of the non-believers to give up and assume hope for this world is all but lost. However, religion constantly serves as a beacon to those who believe in a new life, a better life; and those who choose to follow this beacon are tasked with the responsibility of saving those around them and the ones who will make up our future. Religion offers the hope that can be used as motivation and the end goal its followers are longing for and striving to achieve, it ultimately gives them a reason and purpose to keep on living.