Study Guide

Parable of the Sower Chapter 4

By Octavia E. Butler

Chapter 4

Saturday, February 1, 2025

  • A three-year-old in the neighborhood, Amy Dunn, burns down a garage.
  • Oops.
  • The adults manage to put out the fire, following an emergency plan. No one calls the fire department, as that would require paying fees.
  • Amy's mom is named Tracy. She gave birth to Amy at age thirteen. Her 27-year-old uncle, Uncle Derek, had been raping her for years. The neighborhood men ran Uncle Derek out of town as a result, but no one particularly helps Tracy and Amy—except for Lauren, who asks her mother if Amy can start school early.
  • The neighborhood kids go to Lauren's mother for school, and Lauren helps out with teaching.
  • Lauren's mother says Amy can start early if Lauren takes charge of her.

Wednesday, February 19, 2025

  • Two cousins of Mrs. Sims, Wardell Parrish and Rosalee Payne, move into their deceased relative's home. They feel the community has stolen from the house, but Lauren's father explains that people were just taking back the items they gave her after she was robbed.
  • Lauren's father also explains that the community is close-knit, and the people in it trust one another.
  • The cousins don't really buy it, and Lauren decides she doesn't trust them.

Saturday, February 22, 2025

  • A group from the neighborhood, led by Lauren's father and Jay Garfield, go out for target practice.
  • Lauren muses about Richard Moss' family. He's an engineer for a commercial water company who has invented his own religion by combining the Old Testament and historical West African practices. He has three wives and believes God wants males to rule over females.
  • Lauren wonders if people in the future will be stuck in this version of slavery, or in the President-elect's version of it.
  • The group rides out beyond the neighborhood walls to the canyons. Lauren used to practice shooting birds or squirrels. Killing them triggered her hyperempathy only a little.
  • Lauren doesn't know if she'd be able to kill a person, or what would happen to her if she did.
  • Lauren's father leads the community in gun training. He says the police can't protect the neighborhood, so the residents have to do it themselves.
  • Lauren worries about what will happen once her irresponsible brother, Keith, gets his hands on weapons.
  • The group encounters a wild dog. Aura Moss shoots at it and almost hits Michael Talcott. Lauren tries to calm Aura down.
  • Looking for the dog, Lauren's father discovers a family of corpses. He tells the group to head home.
  • On the way back, Lauren's father shoots a dog but doesn't kill it. Lauren shoots the dog to put it out of its misery. Eep—she feels pain as a result of her hyperempathy syndrome, but she's okay.
  • Curtis, Lauren's boyfriend, is impressed by her nonchalantly killing the dog.
  • The experience dazes Lauren.

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