As she and others from her neighborhood head to the church for baptism, Lauren observes the dangerous and dirty world outside of the wall. "We passed a couple of neighborhoods so poor that their walls were made up of unmortared rocks, chucks 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. (pg. 9).
The scene outside of Lauren's neighborhood - which she has only seen a few times - is a ragged, dangerous one. "Trash" is repeated twice in the description, giving the impression of filth and squalor. The world outside the walled neighborhood is unsafe and dirty, but it is one that Lauren will have to venture into someday.
Walking on the Freeway
As Lauren, Harry, and Zahra walk along the freeway, Lauren marvels at the sight ahead of her: "I've never walked a freeway before today. [...] in its own ways, the scene reminded me of an old film I saw once of a street in mid-twentieth century China - walkers, bicycles, people carrying, pulling, pushing loads of all kinds. But the freeway crowd is a heterogenous mass - black and white, Asian and Latin, while families are on the move with babies on backs or perched atop loads in cars, wagons or bicycle baskets, sometimes along with an old or handicapped person" (pg. 176).
By comparing this post-apocalyptic image to something readers are more familiar with (images from China), the author is able to provide a template for her readers to understand the scene. The imagery is also dominated by motion: people are walking, cycling, carrying pulling, pushing, and so on. The impression is a diverse mass of people moving along towards a distant goal.
When Lauren's group finally arrives at their distant destination of Bankole's land, they are greeted by a jarring sight. "There was no house. There were no buildings. There was almost nothing: a board black smear on the hillside; a few charred planks sticking up from the rubble, some leaning against others; and a tall brick chimney, standing black and solitary like a tombstone in a picture of an old-style graveyard. A tombstone amid the bones and ashes" (pg. 314).
Bankole's sister and her family have been killed by marauding intruders, and their buildings burned. The author makes her readers share the shock of her characters by baldly stating that "There was no house. There were no buildings." She also conveys the sadness of this sight by repeating words like "graveyard," "tombstone," "bones," and "ashes," drawing on images of death and tragedy.
Water Through the Trees
When Lauren is having one of her first chats with Bankole as the group camps by a lake, she ponders that "The world is full of painful stories. Sometimes it seems as though there aren't any other kind and yet I found myself thinking how beautiful that glint of water was through the trees" (pg. 263).
This is a beautiful instance of the author using imagery to convey the emotional feeling of the story. Lauren is occupied by the pain and suffering that she and others have endured, but she still finds the ability to focus on the beauty and goodness of the world.
Parable of the Sower Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Parable of the Sower is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Lauren survives in a dystopian world. The year 2024, environmental degradation and economic collapse have all but destroyed American society. Diseases like measles is rampant. The only safety is found in walled communities like the one Lauren...
Lauren shoots a dog her father has already shot in the head to kill it because she can feel its pain. After she shoots it, she continues to feel its pain, as it dies. She is, however, relieved that she does not die too.