The Sower’s Parable is a futuristic and fictional novel set in a dystopian United States in the twenty-first century. Octavia E. Butler’s novel, written in 1993, outlines the political, social, and economic rot in American society (Butler, 3). This is her first science fiction and fantasy novel. Her main concern was portraying a scenario in which the system has failed and there is no proper approach to law and order. The story revolves around Lauren Olamina, a young woman who suffers from hyper-empathy, a disorder that allows her to sense and experience the pain and other sensations of others. Lauren develops a philosophical religion in her childhood in some parts of a gated community in Los-Angeles. This time had seen adverse resource scarcity with the poverty levels being at the optimum something that had made the civil societies opt to relative anarchism. When the community safety was tampered with, Lauren lost her parents and their home was completely destroyed. After the death of her family, Lauren resorted to going North in the company of others that also survived in order to start a new livelihood and grow her faith of the Earthseed. The novel brings out the living standards of the Californian community in 2024. The city’s organized system has been confused with the development of various social classes based on financial capability. Lauren grows up at a time when the whole of America is experiencing diverse challenges with various politicians giving empty promises.
Despite all the challenges the writer presents the intelligence of Lauren. She presents the importance of Lauren’s “hyper empathy syndrome” and her extreme concern for the feelings of the other people in her fight towards promoting a just and a safe environment. Despite being fifteen years old, Butler brings out Lauren’s ability to mobilize and influence other people as well as her reasoning capacity in order to come up with adequate solutions.
Octavia explains the belief by Lauren that despite the growing challenges that many people face, she still manages to dream of a brighter future. She presents this immense conviction as the Earthseed. Unlike other religions that beliefs in the presence of a supreme being, Lauren’s Earthseed represent the belief in change. Octavia takes some time in her novel to bring out Lauren’s Earthseed belief system into the full context of the Parable of the Sower (Butler, 12). Lauren through her aphorisms presents that “God is not evil nor good, neither is He loving nor hating but He is Power and Change”. She also argues that the people do not worship God but simply perceive and attend to Him (Butler, 20). Through the aphorisms, Laurent was explaining that the end of their challenges was dependent on them and not God. She acknowledges that God had accorded them with the opportunity to change their lives but the belief in the religion that all the solutions came from him is not right. The climax of the novel is brought out when Laurens community is attacked and various people including her family are murdered. With nothing left for her, Lauren in a situation mirroring that of Jesus’ effort to gather the disciples in the Bible, makes an effort to look for travel companions that will help her survive as well as embrace her new religion.
Lauren further utilized the aphorisms to deliver her conviction that because God is change, the community needed to embrace God in order for them to fully abide by God’s teaching. The foundation stone of the Earthseed’s verse was that everything that occurs around a human being creates a changing effect. The verse clearly reiterated that as human beings, the only lasting truth is change. It develops that the universe must shape God as God shapes the universe (Butler, 50).
The true meaning of Earthseed is clearly brought out by the efforts of Lauren’s companions to survive. At such a time, the change had truly become their God and by far the strongest force to defeat in their lives. Change according to the novel turned out to be an indifferent and a cruel God threatening them with hunger, thirst, bodily harm and exhaustion from those that walked through the countryside of California (Butler, 43). Lauren argues that change can also be embraced as a partner. The Earthseed’s religion according to the novel is less than a belief and more of a conviction (Butler, 44). One of the Earthseed’s command was: “Love diversity. Unite because disunity means increased robbing, division, killing and total destruction” (Butler, 52). Lauren and the rest of the survivors held this command dear to their lives. Despite their diverse races, there was a need for them to unite in order to fight their common enemy. Lauren was black, while her other companions were either Asian, Latino, White or biracial. The Earthseed was used to present a powerful fictional philosophy a fact that is captured in the novel through the indictment of the gods belonging to the popular race (Butler, 100). It’s used to bring out the white men’s gods of money, power, violence, and destruction of the environment.
Lauren argues that the gods had created an immense mess in the systems of the society and thus it was time for other people to have an upper hand in making a new future (Butler, 112). Lauren lauded his God of change because unlike the other that had created instability in the country, hers was determined to ensure that there were harmony and understanding through the appreciation of the diverse backgrounds and the adoption of appropriate means of engagement and survival.
Throughout the novel, Butler in a special way brings out the theme of self-reliance. This is evident in the case that even while still young, Laurent already is aware of her community’s state and is ready to deliver them from the turmoil. She personally takes the initiative of saving their community without the assistance of various authorities that are required to do so. The spirit of self-reliance also encourages her to learn new ways and techniques in order to have the necessary skills for her quest. For example, she learns how to use the gun in order to defend those she remained with from the external forces that were willing to destroy them. Their Earthseed community destination provided them with challenges as they started from scratch since they had no resources that would support them. According to Laurent’s religion, it is not appropriate for the people to just sit and wait for God’s intervention as they have a role to struggle in order to develop a conducive environment (Butler, 98). This was in contradiction of her father’s religion that championed for foolish dependence on God. According to her father who was a religious minister, he advocated that their God can perform everything for them and thus no need for struggle (Butler, 98). Laurent perceived this to be the major cause of poverty amongst her community and thus brought out the need to strongly advocate against it through her Earthseed religion that campaigned for toiling in order to survive. Through the use of the Earthseed religion, Butler was determined to bring out the role of religion in the fight against oppression and mistreatment. She champions that the Earthseed is just not a religion like any other but it is more of a belief that is centered towards propelling people to success.
The parable of the Sower concludes on a note of hope. Despite the problems that face humanity being serious, Butler presents that they can be overcome if we are able to adapt and approach them in the proper perspective. She insists that embracing diversity is a major component towards the end of the various challenges that affect humanity. Her religion on Earthseed is centered towards convincing her members on the need to adopt ways of surviving and staying in harmony with human beings. Laurent also champions that the change that people hope for can only be achieved through sweating and fighting for it, unlike her father’s religion, she presents the perspective that because God is changing, the human beings have the sole responsibility of directing God’s malleability. She argues that by the human beings shaping God, they can be able to save themselves. Laurent’s religion was thus a proactive approach towards solving the major concerns that faced the society.
Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. , 2014. Print.