The world has changed, and it is no longer the same place that people lived happily and enjoyed every bit of it; this is the issue that Octavia Butler expresses in the novel The Parable of the Sower. Among the issues that he author has shown in the novel include; homelessness, unemployment, lack of stable society. The rate of crime has increased around the country that people can no longer enjoy the peace and serene atmosphere that they used to enjoy some few years ago. Everyone who wish to live to see the next day must be armed with a gun and if not to stay indoors and never go out in any circumstance. Children are no longer going to school because the streets have become more dangerous and lethal. These are some of the major issues of concern that the author of the novel The Parable of the Sower Octavia Butler addresses. In this paper, I will carry out a textual analysis of the book by giving the interpretation of the story.
The setting of the novel is in California in the year 2025 at the city of Robledo. Butler through the narrator of the story in the novel gives the definition of a home and the concepts one can use to understand what a home is. It is through the narration of a fifteen-year-old girl, Lauren Olamina who is the narrator and the central character in the novel, that we understand the definition of a home. The narrator explains what the society has become; it is no longer a safe place to be. This is contrary to the hope of the narrator; the narrator explains that she and the other kids can no longer go to school because the streets have become a dangerous place to be. Through the author, a home is a place where there is hope, security, people live together. However, this is contrary to the community where Lauren lives together with her family and the neighbors. There is no hope and trust has been broken between people. Even the family members do not trust one another, for example, Lauren explains at the beginning of the novel that her fathers God is no longer her God (Butler, 1993:7). The author depicts he isolation that the city of Robledo has gained as a result of the insecurity and the increased crime in the streets. People can no longer attend their usual business activities, for example, the narrator explains how their community has been locked within such that they do not even go to the church outside the walled cul-de-sac. She says that most Sundays, Dad holds church services in our front rooms (Butler, 1993:7). Despite the various challenges that they experience, the author shows that family remained intact within the walls. This is explained by the narrator when she explains how her father does not allow them to go out that also applies to other kids from the neighboring homes.
Butler describes the threat to the security of the people of Robledo and other cities like Los Angeles. Despite the attempt to improve the safety of the city by building the walls, there are still some people trying to destroy the good thing that can keep the people of Robledo safe. The author gives the experiences that explain the destruction of the security in Robledo. For example, the first experience is the burning of the church that the narrators father had built that left him with no place to hold the services. The narrator explains that the church was burnt down together with the homeless people who took refuge in (Butler, 1993:7). Further, the narrator narrates how the gangs in the street keep on destructing their peace in the walls, for example, she says that were a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time (Butler, 1993: 103). The author depicts the rot in the society, and the homes are no longer safe for the families. The walls that are built to protect the people of Robledo are destroyed and their houses are burnt to ground with the goons from the streets. Through the narrator, we get to understand the difficulty that the people of Robledo and the neighboring cities experience, the discomfort they get as a result of the attacks from the gangs and drug addicts. The narrator explains that whenever they try to stay somewhere, they are ambushed: everything is chaos; People are running, screaming and shooting; the gates had been destroyed, (Butler, 1993:137). The insecurity in the area has caused the people to live as virtual prisoners in their community.
The insecurity has forced the people to move their businesses to some other places they think might be safer than Robledo that has been attacked by the drug addicts. The situation has gone worse that even the federal government cannot control. The people are left with the option to choose what is best for them since the government can no longer control the menace that has attacked California and other states. the author depicts the theme of self-reliance through the narrator who decides to take her destiny into her hands by separating from the rest of the community who wish to move the town of Olivar. Lauren heads to the north where she believes she can find the freedom she seeks. Although the journey she is about to undertake is dangerous, she decides to take her chances. As a way to prepare herself for the challenging life ahead of her journey, Lauren decides to read and learn about how to use a gun and other safety measures like medical emergencies.
Despite the broken society that Lauren and her family live in, there is hope of a new society being established. The frustration of the insecurity in California caused tension and brought distrust between people of the same community. However, after going through the challenges, there is hope that things might get better. The people of Robledo do not like one another; however, they have a common threat they have to face together if they want to regain the social, economic and political stability that the country enjoyed several years ago. Therefore, they decide to put aside their individual differences and come together for one another when one is lonely. This is depicted in chapter 24 when Jill Gilchrist is killed and the sister, Allie remains lonely, and Lauren and the rest of the group come to comfort her (Butler, 1993:341-342).
The author has used various characters such as Lauren, Bankole, Allie, Jill Gilchrist, Tori and Zahra to depict the change in the destabilized society. The death of people like Jill Gilchrist shows the hope that there would be peace and a new society with all the qualities that Lauren and the other kids wished for could return. Lauren and the rest of the kids they are engaged with in the fight like Zahra, Tori, Allie, and Bankole are from different places, but they do not consider their differences, they focus on fighting for what they commonly desire, the reestablishment of peace in the region.
In conclusion, Butler has presented the destabilized society that has been created in a physical symbolism and the profound experiences that are given to the young narrator, Lauren. Butler has managed to create a metaphysical society that has been destroyed but with the hope that it will get better. Butler has created a surviving community through the life of Lauren and other characters like Zahra, Tori, Bankole, Allie and Jill Gilchrist to bring the hope that even if the situation has gotten out of hands for the federal governments control, there is still hope that other people care about the future of the society and are willing to sacrifice their lives to liberate bring back the stability in the community.
Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1993.
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