Friday, January 28, 2011

Preserve Life

In Parable of the Sower, the worldly conditions are basically in shambles; rain does not come very often anymore, natural resources are scarce, and food is not as plentiful as it once was. While on route to Bankoles farm, Lauren’ group experience a “strong” and “chaotic” earthquake that disrupts their original planned route (246). I believe that Butler was relating this to her own beliefs on the direction of the word and parallels the unusual string of earthquakes and natural disasters that plagued the era that this book was published.

Although the idea of an expanding hole in our earth’s ozone layer was introduced in 1977, it wasn’t backed up with indisputable evidence until 1985. It was at this moment that people began to truly question the lifetime and longevity of this earth. This increased awareness of protecting the earth was further driven by the extraordinary amount of earthquakes that occurred from 1985-1993 when this novel was released. For example, in 1985 there was a large volcanic eruption and earthquake that occurred in Colombia that claimed thousands of lives known as the Armera Tragedy. This was quickly followed by the largest earthquake to hit California that caused millions of dollars of damage in Whittier. These earthquakes were accompanied by other quakes such as the 1988 earthquake in USSR and the 1989 earthquake in New Castle, both of which claimed many lives and cost millions in repairs.

In the Earthseed passage found before chapter 20 where Lauren finds out about the terrible aftermath of the earthquake is seen the passage “God is neither good nor evil. Neither loving nor hating…god is change” (245). I think this relates to how Lauren and Butler felt that this constant chain of natural disasters could be some sort of message from God that something is wrong and must change for the better. In Parable of the Sower, Lauren thinks of god as a changing force that motivates a desire to evolve while she strives for a better life. This can be related to the idea that these earthquakes are God’s way of showing his dissatisfaction with the actions of humans as a whole. Although the earthquake does not affect Lauren and her group members, society was destroyed badly and needed to “rebuild” their ways to something new, as obviously the old way wasn’t working. Because society at that time was basically in shambles and virtually beyond repair, it seems that the only way to truly change would be to destroy everything and start anew, something that could be achieved with an earthquake.

I feel that Butler was trying to get across the message of preservation of our earth and its natural resources; we must unite together to protect our earth and ozone so that future generations do not end up like the future in Parable of the Sower. This is actually a very startling thought as we are still battling the same battles in today’s world. We are still fighting to find alternative sources of fuel, efficient ways of recycling water, ways of decreasing pollution, global warming, as well as many other numerous efforts that exist in today’s world. It’s a scary thought but it is very possible that we will deplete the earth of its natural resources and we will need to find alternative ways or we will fall into a dismal future similar to that of Laruen’s.

I support Butler’s ideas of preserving the earth as I feel it is necessary not only for ourselves but for our future generations if we wish to keep living on this planet. There are obviously only so much of natural resources in the world that we must not be wasteful for we will surely regret it. This is especially important as the world’s population continues to steadily grow while resources continue to decline. We must heed Butler’s warnings and change our ways before it is too late and we destroy the future of our future generations.


  1. Drawing our attention to earthquakes and natural disasters is a great idea, for a couple of reasons.

    1) We talked about the "root" causes of climate change and greed. Earthquakes are not caused by either one - you're pointing out that there are root causes here which are not caused by humans, which is important.

    2) Earthquakes are often understood as having religious significance.

    Incidentally, #2 point out one problem with your argument. "It was at this moment that people began to truly question the lifetime and longevity of this earth." This is totally untrue. Maybe at this time is when people started to think about the end of the world in a *scientific* way, but western religions especially have always been concerned with eschatology (discourses concerning endings, or last things).

    I find your ending pretty vague. The middle is more interesting, but also problematic, because you seem to be personifying God (by understanding earthquakes, etc., as *messages*). Lauren clearly does *not* believe in a personal God. However, I actually think the idea of *impersonal* messages, ones which are not actually conscious or willed, are very relevant here.

    So, earthquakes are a great topic, and your sense that the earthquakes are messages is very interesting - but you needed to push yourself farther, by asking what they mean given that her God is impersonal, not personal.

  2. I thought this post was both informative and insightful. I really the use of the Earthseed passage from chapter 20. I feel it has a real strong relevence for your topic and could be explained more clearly.The only thing that I questioned was when you talked about the earthquakes starting the Earth anew. Although I can see where you are coming from, what if the earthquakes never stopped and it was Gods saying game over. Maybe it is just out of human control whether earthquakes end the world. Also, when you talk about saving the planet to make further generations last I would like to see some of your ideas. How do you think people can help and what do you do now to help. Overall, I agree with your analysis and with a little fine tuning on the content this could be a great essay.