Study Guide

Parable of the Sower Chapter 2

By Octavia E. Butler

Chapter 2

Sunday, July 21, 2024

  • This chapter describes Lauren's baptism.
  • Lauren starts us off by saying she no longer believes in her father's God—but she's too cowardly to resist being initiated into his Baptist church.
  • People from Lauren's neighborhood, led by her father, get up early in the morning to go across their town of Robledo to a church with a real baptistery. That's where Lauren, her brothers Keith and Marcus, and four other kids will be baptized as a group to save money on clean water. Water is an expensive thing in this novel.
  • Lauren describes her brother Keith as dumb, but she says he's her stepmother's favorite. He dodges his responsibilities and wants to move to Los Angeles. Don't we all.
  • Getting to the church requires riding bikes as a group for safety. All the adults are armed.
  • The group rides out beyond the protective neighborhood walls and past poor homeless people and dead bodies. Many of the homeless are dangerous and carry untreated diseases.
  • Lauren explains that seeing the suffering of the poor outside the neighborhood walls triggers a condition she has: hyperempathy syndrome.
  • Lauren's syndrome makes her share the pain or pleasure of other people she observes.
  • Lauren calls this sharing delusional. Before her first period, she'd even start bleeding if she saw someone else bleeding.
  • Thankfully, that part of the syndrome has worn off by now.
  • Lauren says she has the syndrome as a result of her mother's abuse of the drug Paracetco during pregnancy.
  • Lauren's family keeps her syndrome a secret. She doesn't want people to know how easy it is to hurt her. Aww.
  • The baptism goes as planned.
  • Lauren muses about God. She says a lot of people believe in God as a kind of big cop who punishes people. Others believe in God as a force, or as nature.
  • Lauren thinks God is something else, something different from all these conceptions.
  • Lauren also ponders a recent storm in the Gulf region. It killed more than 700 people, and she wonders if the people affected by the storm still have faith after all the destruction.

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