Good Example Of Octavia Butler’s Parable Of The Sower Essay
Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower is a seemingly post-apocalyptic novel set in the future. The collapse of the government led to anarchy and lawlessness as well as the widespread control of private entities collectively known as the owners of Olivar. Consequently, the people are forced to live in the walled city of Robledo, move to Olivar, or become one of the thieves or murderers. Lauren, the protagonist, lives in Robledo with her family. Robledo is a relatively safe place because of the walls surrounding the community. Outside the walls, however, is a lawless and chaotic place populated by criminals. In Olivar, people live under the control and authority of a powerful corporation. All three settings in the book reflect the impact of a nonexistent government. In the succeeding discussion, we will explore aspects of Butler’s Parable of the Sower that illustrate the impact of a nonexistent government, and therefore, highlights the need and importance of one in maintaining a peaceful and democratic society.
A Reflection of Butler’s Parable of the Sower
Butler’s Parable of the Sower tackles multiple social issues that are relevant today, such as those that relate to gender and race. We may explore multiple issues raised in the novel. To narrow down the discussion, however, we will focus on one recurring theme – the importance of a capable state or government in the development of a stable society governed by laws and policies that establish peace and order. Hence, the primary argument in this analysis and reflection of the novel is that a stable and dominant government is necessary in the development of a peaceful and democratic society.
Parable of the Sower was set in a post-apocalyptic world of the future. In July 2024, people in California are struggling due to food and water crises, unemployment and abject poverty, as well as the repercussions of climate change. The climate is extreme such that people experience alternating long periods of torrential rains and drought. The climate conditions then led to food and water shortage. Unemployment is rampant due to lawlessness and it appears that the only successful venture is that of the city of Olivar, a community controlled by a powerful corporation subjecting its people to manipulation (Curtis, 171).
Robledo is a walled city located in a dystopian California. The walls around Robledo were built to isolate the people from homeless people, criminals, and other people of bad character. Without the walls, homeless people would go on looting while criminals would commit severe crimes against the innocent (Curtis, 171). The unsafe environment led to widespread caution among households. When venturing outside Robledo, families would carry their own weapons to protect themselves from those living outside the city. All families in Robledo owned guns for their safety.
As the years passed, thieving and looting worsen in Robledo. Lauren decides to find a way out so as to escape the looming danger while looking for a way to survive under harsh conditions due to shortage of resources and extreme climate conditions. As years pass by, however, the crime rate increases. Many people in the community are victimized by thieves and murderers. Robledo is no longer safe for people. Eventually, the growing force of criminals outside the city overrun Robledo. Many people were killed and properties burned. Lauren, however, manages to escape.
Lauren returns to Robledo and after learning that her family died, she decides to leave for good. She could have chosen to go to Olivar but Laurent decided to travel north and look for another place to stay. Lauren looks for provisions before moving away. Along the way, Lauren meets many people who join her in her journey. Throughout their travels to the north, they face several obstacles but some of them manage to escape. In the end, Lauren and her companions reach a place where they decide to settle. Lauren’s vision is to build a new community where she would teach people about the principle of Earthseed, which essentially encourages change through meaningful work and commitment to rebuilding society (Curtis, 171).
Reflection and Analysis
As formerly noted, one of the most important issues raised in Butler’s Parable of the Sower is the important role of the state or government in building a peaceful and democratic society. In the story, a government is virtually nonexistent and the people are left to fend for themselves in a harsh environment. People inside Robledo value harmony and community, which is why they live peacefully together in the walled city. Outside the walls, however, anarchy and chaos prevail due to the lack of government (Curtis, 171).
In reality, we see the value of the state or government as they function in modern society. It may be true in most countries that citizens are generally dissatisfied with their government leaders and therefore, seek improvements in the political system. Despite governments’ weaknesses or shortcomings, however, political stability remain to be one of the most important factors that contribute to peace regardless of the form of government prevailing in countries.
Without a state or a government, laws and policies would cease to exist. In the Parable of the Sower, laws are nonexistent due to political instability. For this reason, some of the people believe that they can easily steal from others or murder them because there are no laws and policies in place that prohibit and punish these types of crimes. Governments play an important role in creating and implementing laws and policies. The US government, for instance, has a legislative and judicial branch. The legislative branch is in charge of creating policies based on existing issues or problems and after consulting with stakeholders to determine issues that may be addressed through the creation and implementation of laws. The judicial system, on the other hand, along with the authorities (e.g. police officers, army, etc.) is in charge of implementing and enforcing laws and policies. Without the government and the two important branches that create and implement laws, there would be no order and anarchy will prevail. As in the Parable of the Sower, the absence of a stable and powerful government led to anarchy and chaos.
Without a government, there would be an absence of solutions and resources to address problems pertaining to food and water shortage of the impact of climate change. In the Parable of the Sower, many people are suffering because of inadequate resources. Climate change is one of the reasons that led to a decline in food and water sources. The government plays an important role in addressing these problems. Apart from creating laws and policies, another important role that governments play involve the resolution of issues or problems that affect people’s quality of life. The government is bureaucratic in that it has created departments or groups that constitute experts and professionals in their respective fields to address specific aspects – healthcare, social welfare, education, food and agriculture, and business, among others (Curtis, 171).
Public agencies and departments are responsible for addressing environmental and social issues. In Parable of the Sower, a stable government could have addressed the problems affecting the community. Right from the beginning, a stable and capable government could have limited the impact of climate change by implementing measures and policies to curb its effect. Although in reality, addressing climate change should be a combined effort between the government and the people, the former could have played a more important role in preventing climate change. Furthermore, the presence of a working government could have addressed other problems such as shortage of food and water resources. By harnessing existing resources (e.g. financial resources, raw materials, infrastructure, etc.), a government could have developed a mechanism or system to collect water to supply the entire community.
Without a government, there would be limited or nonexistent jobs for people. The collapse of the government also leads to the collapse of both public and private agencies. Consequently, the decline of these spaces would lead to unemployment. Unemployment then leads to limited resources and eventually abject poverty. It is important to address poverty because of its further impact on society. Due to poverty, people are forced to resort to crime. In the Parable of the Sower, extreme poverty is the main reason why people became thieves and murderers. They believe that committing crime is the only solution so they would be able to survive outside the walls of Robledo and Olivar. With a system in place, the government could invent and implement mechanisms to facilitate employment.
Without a government, private entities particularly powerful corporations gain free reign over resources and sustain their power over the state. Olivar illustrates the negative outcome of allowing private entities to take control of resources. At Olivar, people live peacefully because the authorities control resources. Only the wealthy may live at Olivar because water, food, and other resources are all for sale. People at Olivar are also employed. Nonetheless, the system in place neglects important aspects of democracy. With a government, the authorities could limit the control of Olivar by preventing privatization and setting limitations on a business’ use of resources. Consequently, the government would be able to set prices on needs and commodities in a way that suits the capacity of the public.
The foregoing discussion illustrates aspects of Butler’s Parable of the Sower that shows the negative outcomes of a non-existent government as well as the importance of one. The living situation and quality of life in the novel show that without a government in place, security would be nonexistent, resources would be limited, poverty will continue, and lawlessness would prevail. All these issues may be addressed through the establishment of a stable and capable government that would be able to provide for the needs of its citizens. With a government in place, Olivar would be open to people and water, food, as well as other resources would be affordable to all – residents or non-residents of Olivar – there would be more jobs for people, and there would be systems or mechanisms in place to address problems or issues through laws and policies, and through the presence of a military authority that would secure the safety and wellbeing of the public.
Butler, Octavia. The parable of the sower. Open Road Media, 2012.
Curtis, Claire P. Postapocalyptic fiction and the social contract. Lexington Books, 2010.
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