Study Guide

Parable of the Sower Change

By Octavia E. Butler

Change

If the theme of Parable of the Sower were a boiled down and slapped on a bumper sticker, it would totally say God Is Change. Now, literature in general is all about change: we analyze plot as it develops and characters as they develop, and the whole thing is about how we're getting from point A to point B, and why.

But this novel takes the to another level. Lauren Olamina, our heroine, actually makes a religion out of this idea. Sometimes people are receptive to her message and how she frames it, and sometimes they aren't. One question this novel asks is: how should a person go about trying to convince others of something, anyway? Particularly something as simple but profound as the thesis that God is Change?

Questions About Change

  1. Throughout the novel, Lauren tries to convince people that God is change. Some heed her message, but others, like Bankole (25.99-102), aren't convinced. What persuasive strategies does Lauren use to spread her beliefs? Consider her use of poetry, for instance. How many people in real life are moved by the beauty of various scriptures? What's effective about Lauren's approach, and what isn't?
  2. What changes do characters other than Lauren go through in the book? Consider Zahra and Travis, for instance. How would Lauren's Earthseed philosophy and her idea that God is change account for those two individuals' journeys and experiences? Is Lauren's framework a good one to view Zahra and Travis through? Why or why not?
  3. At one point (5.96), Lauren says it takes a plague or something equally huge to convince people that big-time change is possible. What big changes have you made in your own life? What factors influenced you to make those changes? How does your experience compare or contrast with the things that made Lauren change, like the destruction of her Robledo neighborhood?

Chew on This

Lauren's right. Change is the most important factor in our lives.

Change is overrated. While it may be important, there are other factors that are better to focus on.

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