Fighting Environmental Decay in Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
In Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, she emphasizes on the degradation of the world in relation to the environment and the ecological impact on cities and the what if of what could happen if problems increase and the mindset and actions of the people don’t change in order to protect themselves. The dystopian world of Lauren everything that could go wrong in her community has begun to happen and it leads to chaos which leads to citizens to feel endangered which gave her the realization that she has to leave and travel North in order for her to feel safe and gain a new beginning. Fire had many different uses according the number of events that took place in the story. In some cases it was a sense of satisfaction for the pyro people who were on drugs set fires because of a feeling that they received that caused them to feel good, it was said “better than sex” which caused them to burn everything that they came across including, homes and communities. Another symbol of fire was it was a destruction but also was something that helped lead to new beginnings.
A new beginning started from a fire that caused a jumpstart to Lauren journey North in order to build a new and better life for herself although others joined as it progressed. Lauren remained positive although the fire created damage, causing her to lose her family and this could be shown “in order to rise, From its own ashes, A phoenix, First, Must, Burn” and this was shown to be the set of a new beginning from the ashes of another. Also fire was used for a great source such as cooking when they wanted to make breads in order to eat, it was used for heat so that her and the others wouldn’t freeze, and lastly fire was used as a light source as they carried lighter in order to see as they would travel. Water is seen as an abundant source of life according to Americans on Earth, it a survival item. In the dystopian world of Lauren there are droughts due to the lack of rain, and the search for a reliable water source was at an all-time high. The void of water is seen as a symbol of wealth, stability, and safety. Often in the community they would be clean but would wear dirty clothes and sometimes Keith would throw dirt on himself because being clean you were a target to others outside of the community walls. In chapter 17 it is shown that water was now seen as money due to the price going up and was becoming harder for people to afford, “People coming out have water; which is as good as money”. On her journey although the water source wasn’t also easy to find Lauren always made sure it was something her and the others had and wouldn’t go without.
With the environment constantly changing due to climate change it caused food insecurity which became another issue. With this issue escalating it caused people to become more selfish due to the lack of resources. With their being a lack of food sources people became scavengers and thieves and would do anything in order to get what they needed, which in turn also built fear in people of the community. With Lauren she found ways for her and the people joined with her to eat, they would go searching or find natural things around them that could be edible. Food was also a symbol such as Acorn which in the story had many different meanings such as a source of food that was eaten when there wasn’t much to eat, but also it was seen as a sign of a new beginning of life, hope, loss of loved ones and possibilities.
In chapter 25, it emphasizes the symbol of new beginnings as they arrived to Bankole’s land “So today we remembered the friends and the family members we’ve lost. We spoke our individual memories and quoted Bible passages, Earthseed verses, and bits of songs and poems that were favorites of the living or the dead…… and decided to call this place Acorn.” This shows that although they lost some of the people they lost as they were on their journey, they will never be forgotten and now that they arrived in an area that is now safe and able to give them new beginnings their lives will now be better than the dystopian and fear filled life they once had.
Prior to Lauren Oya Olamina birth her mom used heroine which lead to her ability to have hyperempathy that assist with her with gaining an understanding of the people around her and sharing emotions. Although the development of her religion isn’t easy to be read and understood of when she developed her religion, but the information and ideas, and reasoning gives an image that Lauren that with change it is the only way of escaping the dystopian world that she is bonded into.
Earthseed was developed by woman by the name of Lauren Olamina, in her mind she had an idea of what religion should be as she lost her faith growing up in a Christian religion believing in God. With Lauren being the divergent thinker that she is who constantly would read and stay up to date with her knowledge, she developed her own beliefs of her religion Earthseed. The religion was built off the belief of nature and change, and with processing that one day the time on Earth will come to an end and that people must be prepared of what is to come next which is known as the fateful day. She takes insight of world around her and the community that she lives in, which gives her the ability to develop techniques to survive and succeed to gain a better life.
Religion is used as a framework of how one person should act and live. Without religion there is chaos, for example with the pyro people they did whatever they felt was right in order to satisfy themselves and hurt other. For other religion such as Christians they focus their commitment and belief in God on a specific goal in mind, such as getting into heaven. This done by following the 10 Commandments, repenting and praying for forgiveness. They see these components as God taking care of them and assisting them to have a good life and second chances. As for Lauren Olamina focused her religion Earthseed she relies on the concept of change and nature, in order to survive and create a better life alone with the belief that one day people would no longer have to live in a dystopian society. With each chapter in Parable of the Sower beginning with “Earthseed: Book of the Living. The structure of her passages wasn’t directed to the discreditation of God or take power away from him, but to bring awareness to the realization that he is change and get others to become aware of the power that needs to be given back to themselves and to nature. This opened the eyes of Lauren and gave her the realization that in order to create a new life for herself and others were for change and this assisted with her survival on her journey.
Religion plays an important role in the lives of the people in Lauren’s community. The religion of Earthseed is to get people to change the way they view God and his intentions. Many religions focus on the thought of their “afterlife” being in heaven rather than taking the time out and exploring and cherishing their lives on Earth. An outstanding passage of Earthseed is in the beginning of chapter 3 stating, “We do not worship God. We perceive and attend God. We learn from God. With forethought and work, We shape God. In the end, we yield to God. We adapt and endure, For we are Earthseed and God is Change.”
This opening state that with them shaping God, it gives them the ability to achieve their destiny and emigrate to create a new beginning. With God being change according to Earthseed it allows citizens along with Lauren to shape themselves into better and, save themselves with hope of a new world. “We are all Godseed, but no more or less so than any other aspect of the universe, Godseed is all there is—all that Changes. Earthseed is all that spreads Earthlife to new earths. The universe is Godseed. Only we are Earthseed. And the Destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars”.The Destiny is necessary because, eventually, the people will live to outgrow Earth and move on to a new place to settle and spread.
These tenants are leading to the discovery that people open their eyes and must do for themselves instead of theological thought that God will protect them and make things better. With the reality of what is going on in the community around them and the people taking initiative taking their lives into their own hands rather than the brainwash of the dystopian that they have struggled in their entire lives there is a chance things could finally begin to get better. The books of the living are a call for a change. The lives of the people traveling with Lauren are already beginning to change because they have become aware of what live is and could be versus what the harsh reality of what it was. Instead of continuing to live the life they were living they were able to learn.
Following along the journey Lauren, shows the group that the delusion of what live was made to be is not the reality. Outside the community, there was a constant level towards the fear of rape, murder, robbery or even worse. The group must be alert continuously of everything around them in order to protect themselves from the perpetrators. “We can get ready. That’s what we’ve got to do now. Get ready for what’s going to happen, get ready to survive it, get ready to make a life afterward. Get focused on arranging to survive so that we can do more than just get batted around by crazy people, desperate people, thugs, and leaders who don’t know what they’re doing!”.
As the journey continues, it is made aware that the life once lived was now gone and they had to build a new life in order to get the feeling of security, hope, and happiness back for themselves. The only thing willing to make a difference out of the pitiful life was to change and it is proven more as the journey progresses. The evolution of the people unifying regardless of the different backgrounds they emerged from, and the different beliefs that they all had when joined and traveling with Lauren for a common purpose of life symbolized the transposition of a dystopian society to something not as gruesome.
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