Parable Of The Sower As An Example Of Dystopian Literature
Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler, conveys many similar topics from history, such as slavery, not having equal rights, and the decrease of civilization, which is what makes it difficult to put the book under one genre classification. Regardless, Butler is able to fit the literature of dystopia into her book. Many different criteria and characteristics of dystopian literature, such as a collapsed civilization, lack of justice, and restriction of freedom and information, are seen throughout the book. In addition to that, the author is able to make the opinion of the book clear to lead the reader to figure out how it’s going to be the future of the real world.
A utopia is an imagined place where everything is known to be perfect. The problems that occur in a utopian world are war, disease, poverty, oppression, discrimination, and inequality. The opposite of a utopia is a dystopia which is perfectly portrayed in the book. A dystopia is defined as an imagined place that is not perfect that consists of everything being unpleasant or bad. In the Parable of the Sower Butler discusses the different kinds of social issues and trends in the United States, from the 1980s and 1990s, and pushes them forward by thirty or forty years. The problems that are occurring have no solutions and become worse each day.
Lauran is one of the main characters who writes everything happening in a journal entry. She has a condition in which she is able to feel the pain of those around her. Her family is staying in a community named Robeldo which is locked with a gate around it. People in the community build a wall to be able to protect themselves from the crimes happening outside their community. Those who are living in the community think they are safe from the dangers happening in the real world. The idea of that is not very true because in the book the community is being attacked more than one time through the book until one day in chapter 14 the whole community is burned down(Butler 153). One of the problems in the century they are in, many people started creating more gates to protect their community. The people in the communities don’t have access to the outside world which restricts their freedom and leaves them to only interpret to what is happening in their community. The environmental disasters that happen in their community caused a scarcity of natural resources. In their community, there has been no rain for years and people will do anything just to get water. Those who are wealthy are the only ones able to afford to take a bath and washing their clothes. The police and firefighters who are known to help for free are corrupt and must be paid for their services
The people living in the communities do not have an idea of what different animals exist. In chapter four, the parents in the Robledo community take their children outside to practice shooting. While the kids are shooting they are attacked by dogs leaving the kids very confused because they have never been introduced to what they were. Lauren asks Aura, “You’ve never seen one before have you?’ She shook her head” (Butler 42). Lauren has some knowledge of what dogs were, but Aura never even heard of such an animal. Lauren explains to her how she knew what they were ‘I’ve read books about them being intelligent, loyal pets, but that’s all in the past, dogs now are wild animals who will eat a baby if they can.’ (Butler 206). Lauren explains this after two characters were attacked. If the people in the community were informed of what is happening in the outside world they would know about other animals. The discovery of normal traits of animals in the future fits into the dystopian world.
One of the major problems throughout the book is the humanity the people of the community do not have. Many people are attacking other people and killing them. In the book, Lauren states, ‘It looked so peaceful, and yet people out there were trying to kill each other, and no doubt succeeding. Strange how normal it’s become for us to lie on the ground and listen while nearby, people try to kill each other” (259). Lauren reflects on this as she is listening to a gun battle. Other than killing people, humans are eating other humans. In this environmental period, a dystopia is perfectly displayed. Many people start to starve because of the low food supply. This is the time of where the government services start to collapse.
Even though the examples in Parable of the Sower fit perfectly in the dystopian literature, it also fits into the theme of Afrofuturism. The book is science fiction which is set in the future that includes different parts of black history and culture which match the exact meaning of Afrofuturism. The community Lauren lives in is the only one that has people from different races. Lauren who is black has white friends but knows that black girls like her should not date white men and only choose someone from the same race. Outside of her community, Lauren knows that traveling with white people can cause negative and violent stuff to her group. Even though the book is after the abolition of slavery it talks about different kinds of slavery that happen in our society and indicates that those forms of slavery still exist and affect many kinds of people. As the years pass it shows how race relations with class differences have divided the people in a way that caused the community of Robledo to come to an end. The future of society, from the perspective of Butler, depends only on if people are able to set aside their differences and work together, and if not, the future may look as to how the community in the book turned out to be.
In conclusion, even though Butler brings together many different themes into the book she is still able to fit it all under the category of dystopia. The different events happening in the book causes there to be more than one theme. One of the messages she is trying to spread with the book is that our world could end up just like the Parable of the Sower’s world.