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The Parable of Sower

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Octavia Butler’s sci-fi novel The Parable of the Sower is set in a chaotic and hostile environment just on the outskirt of Los Angeles. Its protagonist is Lauren, a fifteen-year-old girl who recalls her youth growing up in her gated community. These gated communities are the means for which it is possible to have the slightest chance of growing up in a relatively safe area. Throughout the novel, Lauren encounters many life-changing events that shape her experiences in this dystopian world that is not so far from that of impoverished developing countries.

The year is 2024; gated communities and neighborhood walls are nothing but a means of possibly having the opportunity of growing up in relatively safe environment. Not having a barrier and more importantly a community to belong to means the difference between life and death. Societal hierarchies are gauged by the safety of your wall. Due to the extreme situations and living conditions, traveling outside the gates require you to be armed and travel in groups like a pack. There is no telling what violent encounters one may be exposed to. But above all, when traveling you must appear dirty as not to call attention to yourself; the idea is not to seem as though you are well off when the rest of the world is at wits end. Natural resources such as gasoline are unfathomable to attain. The social elite are the only ones disposed to afford such a luxury. Water is yet another precious resource that the elite only seem to have an abundance of. The situation is so dire that people kill one another for a few gallons of clean water. Drought-like conditions have dried Los Angeles for the better part of seven years. Luck strikes Los Angeles one day in the form of a few rainstorms; this event is so unlike anything from the norm that even pious individuals skip a rainy day Sunday in order to fill up pots, pan, tubs, etc.

The Parable of Sower responds as a critique on the totally unproportioned and deterioration between the rich and the poor. The story dives on the political restructuring of the economy in order to get people to work. As a result, the newly elected president pushes for suspending minimum wage, environmental laws and work protection laws. Lauren’s response to the news is appalling. “And what about those suspended laws? Will it be legal to poison, mutilate, or infect people – as long as you provide them with food, water, and space to die?”

Images Courtesy of Flickr

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