Fighting their rescuers (Butler 57).
Although all of Lauren’s verses bear some importance to her journey throughout The Parable of the Sower, none have been as striking as the above verse from the beginning of Chapter 6. While I spent time analyzing the others, pondering their meaning and overall significance, this verse seemed to be immediately connected to the course of events; it’s ominous, it’s morbid, and it’s so seemingly non-religious that I couldn’t help but be drawn to it.
Lauren’s previous entries in her journal were all filled with words like “God,” “worship,” and “change” (and rightfully so since these are the spiritual ponderings of the protagonist) so what place does a phrase about unintentional suicide have in her repertoire? Despite the obvious parallel of the “rescuer” to a more holy “savior”, I don’t feel that this phrase truly has anything to do with the successful (or unsuccessful) nature of divine intervention. Lauren contemplates the concept of God a good deal throughout her life and ultimately decides that, for her, “God just is” (24). She feels no animosity towards him for putting her in her situation, she feels no obedience towards him that governs her decisions, and most importantly she feels that God is not some archaic figure meant to be followed but rather something that we are meant to mold according to our experiences. If Lauren even believes that a “God” does exist at all, she certainly doesn’t feel that she should relent to his doing and blindly follow some larger life plan that he may have in store for her like so many in her neighborhood do. This philosophy calls for a sense of responsibility and a call to action when needed because God is not the ultimate decider, he presents himself in different manners according to the decisions that we make.
This verse finds itself at a point in the story after Lauren has all but completely renounced the traditional idea of God, has made the decision to take hold of her own fate, but has nonetheless been betrayed and written off as an impulsive and careless teenager. Despite the confidence she has in her plan and her friendship with Joanne, the prevailing forces are those which hold together Lauren’s community; complacency and, ultimately, resignation. It is this exact sense of complacency that Marcuse speaks of in One-Dimensional Man when considering the lack of social change in the United States. Because the Olamina family lives within the walls of a relatively protected community they are considered lucky despite the hardships they face, and it is this comparison between the utter chaos and destruction outside and the respective false sense of normalcy inside that Marcuse targets as the source which “modifies the attitude and the status of the exploited” (Marcuse 25). Joanna may exemplify this unconscious submission to current conditions best when, in the middle of Lauren’s survival plan explanation, she interjects with “Things don’t have to be as bad as you say they are here” (Butler 56).
Lauren has the intelligence and the fortitude to step outside this narrow school of thought, outside the walls of her own neighborhood, and truly ponder whether there is much or any rationale to the way she and her peers are living. In her loss of faith in a “true” God Lauren rids herself of the strongest belief and commonality retained by the rest of her community, but also gains the insight to evaluate what is considered societally normal and judge these norms outside the context of her ruined world. Revolution cannot occur without someone who has the audacity to question the system, someone who will defy tradition on the quest for improvement, and Lauren Olamina uses her alienation as a means to recognize change when changes is needed and make herself that savior or rescuer that she speaks of in her verse.
What Lauren does not realize is that the logic behind her plan is not so apparent to those who so desperately grasp to the “anchor of the past,” waiting for their God to save them. To such a society Lauren’s ideas are not only foolish but also dangerous, serving to knock the whole system of balance and destroy whatever shred of regularity they have left. They push the young girl away in favor of preservation and this verse acts as an omen of things to come as a result of their blissful ignorance. Although Lauren’s intuitions may prove to be correct (and may even make sense to some), the gated community cannot view her as their rescuer because they are anchored to long-held custom and they are drowning from the weight of it.