It is anxiously to analyze how close Octavia Butler was in her prophecies, which were described in the novels Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. In these novels, the gap between rich and poor, inequality, limited resources, and drug influence made life on Earth a survival process. Certainly, modern life is much different from what is described in the novel. However, the problem is that the issues are similar. One also has an abyss between the poor and the rich; although resources do not end, they may become a problem in the future. Modern consumer policy and violence may lead to a severe crisis and division in society. Religion plays an important role in human life by helping humankind to survive, contributing to humanism and compassion, and promoting positive changes.
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The progress as the threat
Religion may help humanity to survive if the worst-case scenario comes true. The fast pace of progress, and the vector of policy development in the direction of the consumer attitude to resources, may lead to the disappearance of humanity. It constitutes the main background of the Parable of the Sower: “Lights, progress, growth, all those things we are too hot and poor to bother with anymore” (Butler 2). Any manifestation of tension and violence in politics is connected with attempts to control territories in order to own resources. The stars are a symbol of equality, honesty, and well-being, and the light of the city, which has eclipsed them, represents the negative consequences of modern development. Despite the advantages of progress, Lauren Oya, the protagonist, chose morality and social welfare: “I would rather have the stars” (Butler 3). This decision symbolizes a small community of people who do not engage in violence and robbery and are fighting to restore moral values. Lauren’s choice was made in childhood, which grew into desperate actions, namely a journey to the north, where water is freely available, and uniting with other communities. The main tool to achieve the goal was Lauren’s feature, namely the hyper empathy, due to which the heroine feels the pain of everyone Lauren sees. It constitutes a basis for the generation of a new religion, the Earthseed, the main idea of which is the rebirth of humanity in new conditions (on another planet).
Factors that influenced the protagonist
Religion contributes to humanism and compassion, as Lauren’s hyper empathy served as one of the factors in formulating the protagonist’s worldview. This syndrome allows Lauren to feel any emotions of the person under review, even though it would be severe pain: “It hurts, that is all I know” (Butler 268). The ability to feel the pain of others has formed an increased sensitivity and empathy for other people, which is the opposite of the politics of violence and consumerism. The consequences of such a policy formulate the novel’s settings, namely the apocalyptic environment and the manifestation of cruelty. The second factor that influenced the heroine was the setting, namely the apocalyptic ambiance in the novel. During the trip, Lauren looked around and saw “at least three people who were not going to wake up again, ever” (Butler 244). Terrifying surroundings, disfigured people sleeping in the open and suffering from thirst, and fenced-off communities guarded by people with weapons have become commonplace. As one might notice, life turned into survival, which was a key point in the heroine’s decision to change the situation. Moreover, the changes had to be global and deep, which would take root in the souls of people. The only suitable way to achieve such changes was religion, as a large-scale idea uniting millions of people.
The ideas of the Earthseed
Religion may promote positive changes on an individual level and for humanity in general. The foundation of the Earthseed religion is a change, in all spectra of human life, from the inner world of the individual to the political systems for the better. Moreover, the changes should be suitable for Lauren: “The particular God-Is-Change belief system that seems right to me will be called Earthseed.” (Butler 165). Changes should also relate to the vector of policy development, relations to each other, and to the environment. The novel acts not only as the author’s way of expressing thoughts and feelings but also as a warning, a signal for humanity. Although the modern picture is far from the one described in the novel, some disturbing factors can be traced today. Another crucial idea of the Earthseed is resettlement, formulating a change in the environment of humankind: “Earthseed is all that spreads Earthlife to the new earth.” (Butler 172). The heroine was also inspired by how seeds germinate through the ground and how they grow away from their parent. It constitutes an allegory for resettlement to another planet, which is part of the idea of the Earthseed.
To conclude, religion is vital for peoples as it may help one to survive, facilitates humanity, and contributes to changes for the better, both on the individual level and for humankind as a whole. The novel depicts the worst-case scenario of consumer policy and violence, and the Earthseed religion is a way to help humanity to rebirth. Further, Laurence’s hyper empathy symbolizes humanity and compassion, which are crucial factors of religion. Finally, religion facilitates changes for the better, as the main idea of the Earthseed is a change. My argument is important since, nowadays, one may notice how the problems raised in the novel are related to the present world as a broader culture and which consequences it may have in the future. Moreover, this question (possible consequences of modern policy and human behavior) may make for other studies.
Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower. Hachette UK, 2014.