Study Guide

Parable of the Sower Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Octavia E. Butler

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Remember how in Battlestar Galactica (the recent one, folks, not the original), Commander Adama told everyone how great it would be to get to Earth? He wasn't sure if there really was an Earth, but he knew that people needed something to believe in, so he just acted as if it were real.

Sometimes it helps people unify and make progress if they have a big gigantic goal they can work toward and put their faith in. In Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, Lauren Olamina tells people who follow Earthseed, the religion she's creating, to believe in a Destiny: they're gonna go out to space and settling among the stars. Space is a real-life heaven, she says; we can actually get there and make a new start for ourselves.

Questions About Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

  1. Think about President Eisenhower's quote that "our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don't care what it is." He seems to be saying that religion is necessary for civic order, but which religion isn't important, because the basic principle is just that people feel some kind of awe or belief in something beyond them. How might this relate to Earthseed's Destiny? Is it helpful or necessary for Lauren's followers to believe the Destiny or work toward it?
  2. How does Earthseed's Destiny connect with sci-fi in general? How does science fiction, as a genre, offer hope or promises to people?
  3. Some self-improvement gurus suggest setting goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. How does Lauren's Destiny fit or not fit into such a system? What about her short-term goal of migrating north to find a safe place to establish a community?

Chew on This

People need a long-term goal or Destiny to focus on in order to make progress.

People don't need a long-term goal or Destiny to focus on in order to make progress.

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