Parable of the Talents, the sequel to one of Octavia Butler’s most famous works of fiction, Parable of the Sower, includes environmental, women's and racial justice in its messaging. The novel continues to follow the life of Lauren Olamina and the community she has built around her newfound faith, Earthseed, following the destruction of her home and family. Her community, called Acorn, is located in northern California where the members provide refuge to outcasts facing persecution by an extremist presidential candidate and his followers.
We soon learn that the story revolves around Lauren’s daughter, Asha Vere, reading her mothers journal entries years later to explore her own history. Along the way she struggles to reconcile the legacy of her mother, who was stuck between a sense of duty to her chosen family and a calling to lead humanity towards a brighter future.
This novel revolves around intersectional feminist issues, using a post-apocalyptic narrative to depict what is going on currently in our own world, as well as what our world could be moving toward. It is just as much a warning as it is a representation.
In our Zoom Book Club Webinar, we will discuss Women’s, Refugee’s, and Environmental Justice issues which the novel is involved in. In relation to these topics, we will also touch on gun violence issues present throughout the novel and how they relate to our present world. 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.
The link below is a podcast series with episodes of discussion for each chapter of the book, available online and wherever you stream your podcasts. It is a great way to prep for the book club (and supplement a couple chapters if unable to read the whole book).
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. Unlike the first book, the effects of rising temperatures are felt even further with the time passed, with northern California feeling like a memory of southern California because of the high temperatures. The novel also asks big questions regarding our exploitation of resources and a sustainable future. The novel is ahead of its time touching on ideas such as solar panels to power vehicles. Issues regarding deforestation, land use, colonization are also brought to attention.
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