Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

by Octavia E. Butler


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446675505
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 01/28/2000
Series: Parable Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 14,841
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER, often referred to as the "grand dame of science fiction," was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Talents, winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel. Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant and numerous literary awards, she has been acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future. She passed away on February 24, 2006.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God Is Change.

—Earthseed: The Books of the Living


I had my recurring dream last night. I guess I should have expected it. It comes to me when I struggle—when I twist on my own personal hook and try to pretend that nothing unusual is happening. It comes to me when I try to be my father's daughter.

Today is our birthday—my fifteenth and my father's fifty-fifth. Tomorrow, I'll try to please him—him and the community and God. So last night, I dreamed a reminder that it's all a lie. I think I need to write about the dream because this particular lie bothers me so much.

I'm learning to fly, to levitate myself. No one is teaching me. I'm just learning on my own, little by little, dream lesson by dream lesson. Not a very subtle image, but a persistent one. I've had many lessons, and I'm better at flying than I used to be. I trust my ability more now, but I'm still afraid. I can't quite control my directions yet.

I lean forward toward the doorway. It's a doorway like the one between my room and the hall. It seems to be a long way from me, but I lean toward it. Holding my body stiff and tense, I let go of whatever I'm grasping, whatever has kept me from rising or falling so far. And I lean into the air, straining upward, not moving upward, but not quite falling down either. Then I do begin to move, as though to slide on the air drifting a few feet above the floor,caught between terror and joy.

I drift toward the doorway. Cool, pale light glows from it. Then I slide a little to the right; and a little more. I can see that I'm going to miss the door and hit the wall beside it, but I can't stop or turn. I drift away from the door, away from the cool glow into another light.

The wall before me is burning. Fire has sprung from nowhere, has eaten in through the wall, has begun to reach toward me, reach for me. The fire spreads. I drift into it. It blazes up around me. I thrash and scramble and try to swim back out of it, grabbing handfuls of air and fire, kicking, burning! Darkness.

Perhaps I awake a little. I do sometimes when the fire swallows me. That's bad. When I wake up all the way, I can't get back to sleep. I try, but I've never been able to.

This time I don't wake up all the way. I fade into the second part of the dream- -the part that's ordinary and real, the part that did happen years ago when I was little, though at the time it didn't seem to matter.


Darkness brightening.


Stars casting their cool, pale, glinting light.

"We couldn't see so many stars when I was little," my stepmother says to me. She speaks in Spanish, her own first language.

She stands still and small, looking up at the broad sweep of the Milky Way. She and I have gone out after dark to take the washing down from the clothesline. The day has been hot, as usual, and we both like the cool darkness of early night. There's no moon, but we can see very well. The sky is full of stars.

The neighborhood wall is a massive, looming presence nearby. I see it as a crouching animal, perhaps about to spring, more threatening than protective. But my stepmother is there, and she isn't afraid. I stay close to her. I'm seven years old.

I look up gt the—stars and the deep, black sky. "Why couldn't you see the stars?" I ask her. "Everyone can see them." I speak in Spanish, too, as she's taught me. It's an intimacy somehow.

"City lights," she says. "Lights, progress, growth, all those things we're too hot and too poor to bother with anymore." She pauses. "When I was your age, my mother told me that the stars—the few stars we could see—were windows into heaven. Windows for God to look through to keep an eye on us. I believed her for almost a year." My stepmother hands me an armload of my youngest brother's diapers. I take them, walk back toward the house where she has left her big wicker laundry basket, and pile the diapers atop the rest of the clothes. The basket is full. I look to see that my stepmother is not watching me, then let myself fall backward onto the soft mound of stiff, clean clothes. For a moment, the fall is like floating.

I lie there, looking up at the stars. I pick out some of the constellations and name the stars that make them up. I've learned them from an astronomy book that belonged to my father's mother.

I see the sudden light streak of a meteor flashing westward across the sky. I stare after it, hoping to see another. Then my stepmother calls me and I go back to her.

"There are city lights now," I say to her. "They don't hide the stars."

She shakes her head. "There aren't anywhere near as many as there were. Kids today have no idea what a blaze of light cities used to be—and not that long ago."

"I'd rather have the stars," I say.

"The stars are free." She shrugs. "I'd rather have the city lights back myself, the sooner the better. But we can afford the stars."

Table of Contents

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Parable of the Sower 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read Wildseed and and was horrified and hooked at the same time. This author has an imagination like no other. I was saddened to read she died and so there will be no more books from her. I read her books for entertainment but she has much to offer in social commentary. Check out all her books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am in 8th grade and was given a list of books for a project I have to do. The list was called 'Outstanding Books for College Bound,' and as I looked through this list the only one that stood out was Parable of the Sower. I believe anyone looking for a challenging yet exciting book to read should choose this one! It's one of those books that you forget you reading and you end up reading it for hours!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book my freshmen year, and although it took offguard at how visual it was, it definetly was a favorite. The hidden messages and idea of pursuing so strongly something you believe in, yet have contrived all yourself was altogether intresting. Insightful, and if your willing to open your mind and take a different look at things, I think you'll enjoy it. I did. But if your not into graphic visuals, this probably isn't for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I, at first, hated this book because it sounded too preachy, but it has a good point. Cultures have fallen all throughout history. What's to say that it won't happen to us? Are we ready?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book not only in the ways it signifies upon other African American texts, but also because of what it says about the state of our present society and what it could lead to. Everyone should read it!
nbmars on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book is the purported diary of teenager Lauren Olamina from 2024 through 2027. In writing about future America, the author said she wanted to "consider where some of our current behaviors and unattended problems might take us." The escalation of drug use, crime, corporate greed, global warming, the rich/poor gap, inattention to literacy all lead to a United States that has become "through the combined effects of lack of foresight and short-term unenlightened self-interest, a third world country." Burned out of her home with her family dead, Lauren sets out with other stragglers to find a place to live. They include Harry and Zahra from her old neighborhood, a young couple Travis and Natividad and their baby Dominic, abused sisters Allison and Jill, former doctor Taylor Bankole, and the former slaves Emery and her daughter Tori and Grayson and his daughter Doe. Lauren's survival instincts are impeded by "hyperempathy syndrome" caused by her mother's drug use: when she sees another in pain, she feels it also. The former slaves are also "sharers." The dark vision of Butler's future America (which includes pyromania, parasitism, random violence, gang warfare, and cannibalism) is not without hope. Lauren starts a new religion - Earthseed - that says "God is change." God changes us but we can also change God; that is, one can in fact learn, adapt, and grow.Lauren finds love with Bankole, a man one year older than her father had been. He has some land in northern California, and they all make their way there to start a new community that will "live according to Earthseed" - the essentials of which are for people "to learn to shape God with forethought, care and work; to educate and benefit their community, their families, and theselves; and to contribute to the fulfillment of the Destiny [populating other planets]." The group symbolically bury their dead, plant an oak tree for each dead family member, and decide to call their new community Acorn. Butler ends with the Parable of the Sower from St. Luke 8:5-8:"A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And others fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bore fruit an hundredfold."
silverbow on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I seldom read science fiction, but this book was excellent. Octavia Butler's recent, accidental death was tragic. We have lost an inspirational and thought-provoking writer who also created completely believable alternate worlds and who told a great story.
leld on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I've read this at least 5 times. How does a religion start? Is a religion created, made up? Does it grow on it's own?
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Grace-L More than 1 year ago
Parable of the Sower is an award winning science fiction novel, written by Octavia Butler in 1995. The novel focuses on several themes such as, religion, empathy, violence, the struggle for survival, and culture diversity. Sixteen year old Lauren who suffers from hyperempathy syndrome guides the story. Empathy is the ability to feel other people's pain. Everyday the characters struggle to survive in the chaotic twenty-first century. Therefore, Lauren decides to embark on the life threatening journey to escape the horrors of daily life. Throughout the story Butler creatively intertwined suspenseful scenes with thoughtful ideas to create a well written modern science fiction novel. Parable of the Sower is a fun quick read that I would highly recommend.
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