An Analysis of the Community in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

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"In Christ, we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others" (Romans 12.5). The bible directly describes and defines community; it is human's innate need to bond together, providing the basis of a community. In a religious sense, a community can be described as the interaction between a group of individuals. All communities need distinguishing factors that not only unite the members in thought but also in action. Rituals and agreements within a community are traits that provide just that, they help characterize and unite the group within the organization.

In Octavia Butler s novel, Parable of the Sower, she creates a surreal world in which a community joins together to fend off harsh and frightening realities of the world outside the walls. A community, itself, should provide security, trust and honesty, and more importantly, happiness. This is a small community. [they] all know each other here. [They] all depend on each other. [They re] not very social, [they] mind their own business (p 31).

One apparent aspect of the ritual of banning together against catastrophes is that it not only draws the group together physically, but it also has a tendency to bond them emotionally. A community joins together when there is a threat to disrupt the peace and comfort that a group setting provides.

The adult men and women put the fire out with garden hoses, shovels, wet towels and blankets Kids [Lauren s] age helped out where [they] were needed and put out any new fires The very old people watched the little kids and kept them out of the way, and out of trouble (p 28).

Society offers few chances for this level of participation, which intensifies the feeling of belonging. The strength offered by a group of people is easier than standing alone.

Individuals would fall apart without a sense of community. An individual who fails to yield to the customs that are accepted by the majority will be singled out from the crowd, be condemned and suffer [their] own embarrassment (p 29). [Mrs. Sims] was the only person [Lauren] even knew who lived alone (p 19). Being alone, lead to Mrs. Sim s demise; she lost all sense of community and of being neighborly, leading to suicide. When things became too overwhelming, she decided to trade pain now for eternal pain in the hereafter (p 21).

Other communities that, in Lauren s eyes, did not meet the standards of a strong community were made up or unmortared rocks, chunks of concrete, and trash. Then there were the pitiful, unwalled residential areas. A lot of the houses were trashed burned, vandalized, infested with drunks or druggies or squatted-in by homeless families with their filthy, gaunt, half-naked children (p 8). In essence, these people did not bond together to protect one another, but instead, they turned their backs on one another and allowed outsiders to invade their society. A community will fail unless it gives a sense of security to make sure that every house, every person, every object has safeties and protection against crimes. It must provide trust and honesty to each person to have faith and loyalty about it.

A community normally is created around a group of people with the same expectations and same financial status, making it easier to identify with the people who surround them. People are expected to fear and hate everyone but their own kind (p 31). However, a community It isn t enough for [the group] to just survive, limping along, playing business as usual while things get worse and worse. If that s the shape [they] give to God, then someday [they] must become too weak --- too poor, too hungry, too sick to defend [themselves]. Then we ll be wiped out (67).

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An Analysis of the Community in Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. (2022, Dec 08). Retrieved September 25, 2023 , from

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