Parable of the Sower

Prediction Of a Future in Parable Of The Sower

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer


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

Ecological Problems

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),

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Crime And Violence in Parable Of The Sower

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer


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.

Works Cited

  1. Butler, Octavia E. ​Parable of the Sower. ​New York, NY: Warner Books, 1993. Print.
  2. 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:
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Representations Of Hope in Octavia Butler’s “Parable Of The Sower” And Ursula’s “The Dispossessed”

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

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.

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Depiction Of Empathy in Parable of The Sower

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

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.

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The Powerful Symbolism Of Water

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

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.

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Analysis of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler Through the Characteristics of Dystopian Literature

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

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.

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Analysis Of The Topic Of Religion In Parable Of The Sower By Octavia Butler

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

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.

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Analysis of the Idea of Boomerang in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

It is the year 2024. American society is at the brink of an environmental and economic apocalypse. A young girl in Robledo, California knows she can no longer accept the dormancy and perpetual degradation of the status quo and must find a way to inspire change for the chance of survival. In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler follows a 15-year-old African American girl, Lauren Olamina, as she struggles to navigate a world broken by class differences, greed, and capitalism. In her novel, Butler uses elements of race relations in the United States in a historical and modern-day context to suggest that empathy-driven change is fundamental in the prevention of social and political degradation. Butler was a firm believer that history was not always linear, but sometimes cyclical in motion. She also believed that the idea of progress, when relating to social change, was not permanent and could very well be reversible. These concepts are partly what inspired the Parable trilogy, along with her own experiences and vision of where the world could be headed. “This was not a book about prophecy; this was an ‘if-this-goes- on story,’” she said in a speech at MIT in 1998. “This was a cautionary tale, although people have told me it was prophecy.

All I have to say to that is ‘I certainly hope not’”. Her foreshadowing of global affairs, both realistic and wildly accurate, constructs a near-future dystopic society that must grapple with issues like climate change, mass incarceration, gun violence, homelessness, drug epidemics, and a broken economy driven by capitalism and wealthy institutions. In an essay commemorating the book’s 25th anniversary, Gloria Steinem said, “If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it’s one written in the past that has already begun to come true”. Beyond the novel’s most obvious external conflicts, and with subtle nuance, lies a profound element of social inequality, sometimes paralleling the times of antebellum slavery and the American civil rights movement. In Parable of the Sower, the middle-class are segregated from the poor in their walled-off communities, while the rich are situated up in the hills, guarded by even bigger walls, privatized security, and government policy. “Up toward the hills there were walled estates – one big house and a lot of shacky little dependencies where the servants lived”. Later in the novel, Lauren notes that “Some upper-class men prove they’re men by having one wife and a lot of beautiful, disposable young servant girls. Nasty”. These images remain in direct reflection of plantation life in the American South where a dependence on slave labor and the perpetual abuses of slave women’s bodies were among the routine. Was Butler suggesting that the rich and powerful were the sources for class discrimination and exploitation? Or was she attempting to present a more nuanced and abstract explanation for social degradation? These questions require further review.

In Butler’s idea of cyclical history, or as Ralph Ellison refers to as a “boomerang” in his 1952 novel Invisible Man, she conceptualizes the resurfacing of violence and discrimination toward peoples, specifically relating to elements of slavery and the exploitation of labor to support capitalist agendas. In the Parable of the Sower, Butler was less concerned with portraying modern slavery as an issue of race, but more as a function of class. In the book, Lauren often evaluates the ways in which she can escape her dormant community and pave her own future, rather than the one her family seeks to maintain in Robledo. Lauren looks toward a new opportunity developing in the town of Olivar, a previously wealthy coastal town that had been privatized by a company called KSF who intended on exploiting Olivar’s farming and natural resources. In doing so, they began trading lower-waged work for the promise of security, food, jobs, and a protection against rising coastal waters. In her examination of Olivar, Lauren determines, “That’s an old company-town trick – get people into debt, hang on to them, and work them harder. Debt slavery”. With Olivar out of the picture, Lauren knew she needed change, but it would not come in the form of ‘debt slavery.’ While Lauren was motivated by change, she struggled to find people in her community, including her father, who were interested in the same things. Her father, the local Baptist minister, was persistent on staying in the safety of Robledo as he frequently challenged Lauren’s ideas of leaving town for any new opportunities. He refused to see Olivar as anything but voluntary slavery and regarded any possibility of finding a better home outside of Robledo as an act of suicide. Even one of Lauren’s closest friends, Joanne, thought she was crazy for considering a future outside their walls after attempting to persuade her on the importance of change. “People have changed the climate of the world.

Now they’re waiting for the old days to come back’. “Waiting for the old days to come back,” as Lauren puts it, reflects her understanding of the popular sentiments of her community and the rest of society in that they were very much afraid of change. Waiting for “the explosion, the big crash, the sudden chaos that would destroy the neighborhood”, or destroy the world, Butler might add. Following many failed attempts to convince her loved ones of the imminent destruction of their community, Lauren starts the creation of a new faith, Earthseed, which would ultimately guide her in leading its believers toward a new destiny. Inspired by change, Earthseed becomes Lauren’s understanding of truth and the eventual resolution to the cataclysm of her world. “All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change. God Is Change”. “The only lasting truth is Change,” becomes the dominant theme throughout Lauren’s new faith. It’s the reason why she believes that resisting change, staying in Robledo for example, would only end in tragedy. Upon her anticipations, Lauren’s town is eventually burned and ravaged, and she is forced on a journey north with the only two remaining people from her town, Zahra and Harry. Fleeing Robledo and their refusal to join a privatized slave town like Olivar, Lauren and her group resemble fugitive slaves in the 19th century and their northern escape to freedom. This is especially true when you consider the racial and gendered dynamics of the group as well as Zahra’s recent liberation from a husband who bought her with money and treated her no less than a slave. The fact that two black women traveling with a white guy proved to be a dangerous move indicates the degradation of the social climate of Butler’s prophetic future.

Realizing the dangers of their multi-racial and co-gendered situation, Lauren decides to travel as a black male to increase their chances of survival. “We [Zahra and Lauren] can be a black couple and their white friend. If Harry can get a reasonable tan, maybe we can claim him as a cousin”. Lauren’s decision to change her gender not only illuminates the lack of privileges associated with being a [black] woman, but also reflects the vision of Earthseed in that “All that you Change, Changes you.” One of the greatest challenges Lauren faces throughout the novel, and one that must not be ignored when examining Butler’s thematic objective, is that her character suffers from hyperempathy causing her to feel the pain and the pleasures of the people around her. While this condition is Lauren’s greatest vulnerability and what doctors call an ‘organic delusional syndrome’, it ultimately becomes a powerful tool in her understanding of how the world could be a better place. “If everyone could feel everyone else’s pain, who would torture? Who would cause anyone unnecessary pain?” 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”. This moment is foundational in Lauren’s character development as she begins to see the value of empathy in her world. “I wish I could give it to people. Failing that, I wish I could find other people who have it, and live among them”. Lauren’s wish ultimately becomes reality when she encounters a family of ‘sharers’ who escaped the bondage of debt slavery, accepting them as valuable contributions to her future Earthseed community. The world in Parable of the Sower mirrors an ‘every man for himself’ kind of place.

Most people refuse to trust any stranger out of fear, but Lauren leads her group in helping others who might be valued assets to Earthseed. Along her journey, she collects a diverse group of people who are all very much surprised by her generosity, a byproduct of her hyperempathy. Many of the travelers that join her pack are either prior slaves or were victims of institutional debt slavery, magnifying the extent to which Lauren’s world had declined. “So we become the crew of a modern underground railroad”, Lauren tells Bankole, a romantic partner she picks up along the way. Bankole was immediately attracted to Lauren’s group after their first encounter since, as a Doctor, he naturally shared their tendency to care for the wellbeing of others; yet another person who valued empathy and compassion toward others. “I was surprised to see that anyone else cared what happened to a couple of strangers”. Bankole plays a vital role in Lauren’s quest to spread Earthseed after she learns that he owns a large plot of land in northern California. “You could help me, build the first Earthseed community”. Bankole’s land ultimately becomes their new Earthseed home and they called it Acorn.

In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler creates a world that has far deteriorated from the one we live in today. Her dystopic future, both practical and imaginable, is polluted with human problems that provoke social injustices and political decline. Butler’s use of race relations mirroring the African American experience in a historical context suggests her sentiments toward “boomerang” slavery and a justification for social progress. Lauren’s Earthseed and Hyperempathy syndrome lay the groundwork for inspiring change, which ultimately serves in keeping her alive and providing a place for her followers to seek refuge. In an exhibit at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, many of Butler’s manuscripts, letters, and affirmations are featured on display. One of them in particular, a handwritten note on the back of a notecard, reads: “Tell stories filled with facts. Make people touch and taste and KNOW. Make people FEEL FEEL FEEL!” Did Butler write this note to inspire the work of Parable of the Sower? That answer may never be reveled, but surely her vision reflects the creation and development of Lauren Oya Olamina.

Works cited

  1. Butler, Octavia E. Parable Of The Sower. New York : Warner Books, [2000], ©1993. Print.
  2. Butler, Octavia E. “The Media in Transition.” The Media in Transition. 8 Oct. 2019.
  3. Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage International, 1995. Print.
  4. Steinem, Gloria. “Gloria Steinem on Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.” Early Bird Books, 26 Feb. 2016,
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Analysis of the Theme of Substance Abuse and Violence in Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler takes you to the year 2024; environmental degradation and economic collapse have all destroyed American society. Diseases like measles ravage the population, people fight and die over water, and new drugs take over the survivors. The only safety is found in closed communities like the one Lauren Olumina lives in with her family trapped where suburban families have come together to survive. This essay will discuss the struggles that substance abuse and violence cause throughout the book and in the society we live in today. Substance use disorders (SUDs) are associated with numerous medical, psychiatric, psychological, spiritual, economic, social, family, and legal problems, creating a significant burden for affected individuals, their families, and society.

Exposure to violent crime damages the health and development of victims, family members, and entire communities. Low-income communities and racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected. These topics play a big role in my life, coming from a low-income community where violence and substance abuse happen daily just like in Parable of the Sower. Octavia Butler uses the theme of violence throughout the entirety of Parable of the Sower. An effective way to view the violence in this novel is to, view it in the perspectives within which Butler positions it: it can be inherently harmful, inherently beneficial, and even a necessity for survival. When it comes to illegal substances, society has determined that the use is harmful and has placed legal prohibitions on its use.

This is to both protect individuals’ well being and shield society from the costs involved with related healthcare resources, lost productivity, the spread of diseases, crime, and homelessness. The abuse of illegal substances has a direct connection with the violence. For example, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment noted that more than 75 percent of people who begin treatment for drug addiction report having performed various acts of violence, including mugging, physical assault, and using a weapon to attack another person. This shows that substance abuse affects the mental state of individuals and causes them to act in poor ways. In Parable of the Sower, there is a drug that makes individuals start fires in the community bringing them to destroy the homes of many families causing them to either end up homeless or dead.

The two types of drugs in the novel are, pyro and parateco. In the novel, these drugs are believed to cause extreme pleasure which makes it difficult to quit. According to the author, Pyro makes it better than sex to watch the fire burn. Keith, Lauren’s brother, explains his close experience with pyro with his family, ‘Hey, I saw a guy get both of his eyes gouged out. After that, they set him on fire and watched him run around and scream and burn’. The addicts of the drugs are known as ‘paints’ because they ‘shave off all their hair – even their eyebrows – and they paint their skin green or blue or red or yellow. They eat fire and kill rich people’. Even Keith, who Lauren views as a psychopath, thinks that pyro is a bad drug that affects people negatively. The social importance of the paints killing rich people feeds into the division between the wealthy and the poor and the animosity that these breeds. The other drug is, Parateco – This drug is the reason for the hyperempathy syndrome that Lauren, Emery, Grayson, and other members of the community have. Called the ‘smart pill’ or ‘the Einstein powder’, Lauren’s mother used it in graduate school. It became the status quo for students to use the pill because it made it easier to learn and retain knowledge. Only later did the bad side effects of the drug come out. Lauren’s mother died while giving birth to her, and it is postulated that Parateco might have been the reason.

Arguably, the pivotal event of Butler’s novel is when Lauren’s community is destroyed and almost everyone is killed. During this event, everyone but Lauren and two other residents are brutally killed by either gunshot or fire, leaving their neighborhood in shambles. Butler uses this scene to help portray the harmful violence that occurs throughout the novel. Zahra Moss, one of the survivors, describes to Lauren about how she was raped before she was able to escape. Those that destroyed the community were on the drug Pyro. Another instance of harmful violence related to drugs occurs when Lauren describes her brother’s death. “Someone had cut and burned away most of my brother’s skin. Everywhere except his face. They burned out his eyes”. When Keith decided to go beyond the gate, he got into dealing with these harmful drugs. His family suspects that he was tortured and killed by other drug dealers that saw him as a competition. These events show that the drugs are the basis of the harmful violence found throughout the novel. Another perspective portrayed in the novel is that violence could also be beneficial for some individuals.

After Lauren’s community is destroyed, she returns to find many of the street poor scavengings through the empty houses and stealing things from the corpses. Not everyone is able to live within the safe, gated communities; therefore, they are able to benefit from the violence that was imposed onto communities by stealing from people’s bodies or the houses. Another example of violence being beneficial for some is the idea that violence can be used to end the pain. When Lauren and some others from her neighborhood go shooting one day with her dad, they come across some dogs that are potentially dangerous. After her dad shoots one, it doesn’t completely die. Lauren can feel its pain, and it becomes too much for her so she herself ends up shooting it. This can be seen when she states “With my right hand, I drew the Smith & Wesson, aimed, and shot the beautiful dog through its head.” Lauren only uses violence here to end her own pain and suffering, as well as that of the dog.

All things considered, substance abuse and violence in different communities affect the way the community functions and the way families work together as well. As explained before, exposure to violent crime damages the health and development of victims, family members, and entire communities. Low-income communities and racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected. Although a large number of people may believe that violence and substance abuse only affect the people who are engaging these activities, substance abuse and violence affect everyone who is being surrounded by this activity as well. In addition to this, people who witness violence, whether it is hearing, seeing, or experiencing it, are at higher risk of PTSD.

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Analysis of Literal and Figurative Concepts in Parable of the Sower by Octavia. E. Butler

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

The novel, Parable Of The Sower, by Octavia. E. Butler, is set in California and takes place in the near future, during 2024-2027. The science fiction novel brings to life a gruesome view of the future with a shocking resemblance to reality. A parable is a simple story with a moral or spiritual lesson behind it. This novel is based upon a parable from the bible. While the novel is fiction, the authors use of figurative language to describe the dystopian future, of which includes global warming, a collapsed government, slavery, chronic water shortages, poverty, and a world filled with violence. There are multiple literal and figurative concepts of slavery, gender identity and hope for something better that allows for the readers to better envision the lifestyle of the characters and compare it to the patterns of our current and past worlds.

The world portrayed in this novel is god awful. The theme of slavery and racism is brough up more than once throughout Butler’s novel. Both figurative and symbolic language arises in the novel when Lauren declares “I’m going north”. Lauren is one of the many people that was headed North in hopes of finding employment and resources. This is much like the journey of the freed slaves from the South to the North in search of a better life. The whole journey North as told in the novel is symbolic of the journey North for the freed slaves. Butler makes several references to slavery throughout the novel. After Lauren’s community is destroyed, she forms a group including two former neighbors, Harry and Zahra, and a few other people she meets a long that way that were held as slaves in the past. Lauren and the group refer to themselves as the “crew of the modern underground railroad”. This is a reference to the underground railroad used for “fifty years or more, was secretly engaged in helping fugitive slaves to reach places of security in the free states and in Canada.”

Through Lauren’s journal entries, it is clear that Butler is trying to bring the topic of slavery to light. There are clear literal and figurative examples of slavery and racism throughout the novel. Butler “begins by evoking the African American experience of slavery and then moves beyond that experience of oppression to illustrate that African American slavery is one of many manifestations of bondage in American history.” Lauren, obviously, did not care about the race of someone. Her group of people consisted of black, white, Asian, Latino, rich or poor, gay or straight, it made no difference to her. Throughout the novel, the use and abuse of women is expressed more times than once. At one point during Laurens travels, she passes a naked woman stumbling down the road and cannot tell if the woman has been raped or if she was on drugs, or both. She goes on to explain that naked, “used” women often roamed the streets alone after being used by men. She describes this situation as it is a normal occurrence. This correlates to the modern day domestic abuse that has become accepted as the normal for many.

This is also similar to the sex trafficing issues that have grown over the past couple of years. Once Lauren returns to her destroyed neighborhood she observes the dead bodies on the streets, realizing that most of the females, of all ages, had been brutally raped before their deaths. In this futuristic dystopia, women were used, abused, and looked at as objects rather than human beings. It is stated by Lauren, on multiple occasions, that women are uneducated and only know how to take care of babies and cook. Their sole purpose was looked at to be to cook, clean, and have children while relying on the man to work. This way of viewing woman dates back hundreds of years. Lauren has to disguise herself as a man in order to leave Robeldo. This is similar to the woman, Debroah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the military to fight in the Revolutionary War, since women were not able to enlist in the military in 1782. As previously stated, people have maintained this view of women only being useful for certain things such as cooking and cleaning for many years. Butler obviously sees our future being no different or any better than the world we live in now. However, it is said that history repeats itself.

Maybe that is what the readers sees throughout this novel, history repeating itself in more ways than one. Laurens story and her ideas of Earthseed are used as a parable for the readers, giving an example of how people might avoid this repetition of history and the consequences of it through change and adaptation. The consequences of not accepting change and learning how to adapt and overcome are also shown throughout the novel. For example, Lauren’s father, Laurence, who was born in the twentieth century and stuck in his beliefs of the old ways. He constantly defending faith over reason, something Lauren does not agree with. Lauren says he believes in a “big-daddy-God or a big-cop-God” who will take over and make things right in times of need. Laurence is unable to adapt and overcome, and instead continues to hold out hope for his God to change things instead of being the chance needed. Halfway through the novel, Laurence disappears, along with his way of thinking. The death and disappearance of Laurens family is motivation for her as the leader of the “modern underground railroad” and Earthseed.

Butler emphasizes to the readers that the lessons learned from the past are important in teaching so that history does not continue to repeat itself. Referring back to the bible, Lauren is much like Moses, leading the group out of slavery or a bad environment, just as Moses led the Isralites out of Slavery in Egypt. Lauren uses these examples and lessons of the past to her advantage, founding Earthseed and finding a new place for a community, attempting to start a new life without repeating the events of the past. When Lauren learns of little Amy Dunn’s death, she is completely devastated. She was shot through the metal gate that led into the neighborhood. Lauren, who feels the pain of others as well as her own, is furious with the ways of the world at this point. She uses a simile to express her feelings of the neighborhood after little Amy Dunn’s death. She says “It’s like an island surrounded by sharks – except the sharks don’t bother you unless you go in the water. But our land sharks are on their way in. It’s just a matter of how long it takes for them to get hungry enough”. People are killing others for no good reason, and there is violence all around Lauren.

This is much like our current society, with school shootings, bombings, and more random acts of violence with no good reasoning behind them. The violence shown in many examples throughout the novel can be easily compared to the violence that currently goes on and has gone on for years. The main metaphor shown in the novel is the seed. It represents the hope of the characters. The title of the novel itself comes straight from a bible verse (Luke 8:5-8) in the New Testament parable about a sower/farmer who sowed seeds. Some of these seeds never had a chance to sprout, some were eaten by birds, and some started to grow but were killed by the heat of the day. However, some seeds fell on fruitful ground, grew, and produced good fruit. The farmer is a symbol for Jesus in the Bible, but is a symbol for Lauren in this novel. Comparatively, this is exactly what Lauren is doing throughout the novel. Her “seeds” are human beings, some of which hear her ideas of Earthseed and respond to it, and others who hear it and do not bother to respond. Lauren refers to her religion as Earthseed because she believes that human beings are the seeds needed for a new and improved community to blossom on Earth. According to Lauren, it is the people’s destiny to spread, like seeds, throughout the universe and start life on new planets. This is also why Lauren refers to the new community as Acorn.

The community of Acorn represents the seeds of a new life that will, over time, grow into something much bigger, just as a small acorn grows into a large oak tree with time. As previously stated, the new community name is also a metaphor in itself. Acorn is a safe space, or a place of refugee, for the community members. The Earthseed group plans to stay at the new community, in which they have named Acorn. At the end of the novel, the readers are given the actual parable of the sower from the King James Version of Luke. Throughout the novel, the readers have witnessed Laurens trial and errors of spreading her Earthseed religious views and ideas. The ending of the novel gives the readers a sense that Earthseed will be successful in the Acorn community. The way Lauren holds onto hope throughout all of the harsh conditions and violence is much like people do on a day to day basis now. In conclusion, the author uses figurative language such as similes and metaphors to better explain the near future dystopian world being portrayed. Many of the issues Butler incorporates into the future portrayed in the novel are parallel to past and current issues in the world today. The future that is shockingly grim and close to reality with the literal figurative example sof slavery, gender role issues, and hope for a better future scattered throughout the novel.

Works Cited

  1. Allen, Marlene D. “Octavia Butler’s Parable Novels and the Boomerang of African American History.” Callaloo, vol. 32, no. 4, 2009, pp. 1353–1365., doi:10.1353/cal.0.0541.
  2. Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1993. Print. Siebert, Wilbur Henry. Reprint Services Corporation, 1898,
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