Parable of the Sower, one of Octavia Butler’s most famous works of fiction, details the life of Lauren, a young Black girl living in the post-apocalyptic state of the year 2024. Lauren is special: she has hyperempathy, which enables her to be able to feel what others are feeling–both physically and emotionally. This causes her to have a different outlook on life than many others in her situation.
This novel revolves around intersectional feminist issues, using a post-apocalyptic narrative to depict what is going on currently in our own world.
In our Zoom Book Club Webinar, we will discuss Women’s and Environmental Justice issues which the novel is heavily involved in. While we will include a powerpoint presentation, much of our time in the webinar will be spent in small- and large-group discussion of the novel. We will relate Parable of the Sower directly to today’s world, including causes for people to take direct action in.
Click the link below to listen to a podcast detailing Butler’s contribution to the literary world.
Regarding Environmental Justice, the setting of the novel closely mirrors what can be seen in parts of our world today. Low-income, indigenous, and/or Black and Brown communities tend to be exposed to the effects of climate change first and worst. The way vulnerable communities respond to the environmental changes around them can be applied to a social analysis of climate change. There are also aspects of the novel that get into a nuanced exploration of this topic relating to modern day. For example, the prices of gasoline compared to the availability of clean water in disadvantaged communities, or money being used to send astronauts into space instead of helping people on the ground of this planet.
McKay’s film Don’t Look Up (2021) explores similar themes as Parable of the Sower. However, it does this without an intersectional approach, and caters to an upper-middle class white audience. While well-respected among film critics and generally enjoyable to watch, we believe that the movie should be critiqued in terms of its representation of different groups of people, as well as its relevance to climate change. In critiquing it, we plan to compare it to Parable of the Sower. The most important aspect of this webinar, though, is that it’s a conversation! We want to get everyone’s perspectives on both the text and the film being discussed.
Click the link below to learn more about the issues within Don’t Look Up.