When Lauren hesitantly tells Zahra and Harry about her hyper empathetic abilities, Zahra dismisses any idea that these abilities are a problem or a hindrance. Zahra speaks, and Lauren narrates: "'My mama took drugs, too,' she said. 'Shit, where I was born, everyone's mama took drugs - and whored to pay for them. And had babies all the time, and then threw them away like trash when they died. Most of the babies did die from the drugs or accidents or not having enough to eat or being left alone so much.' [...] She took my hand and held it. 'You ain't got nothing wrong with you, Lauren - nothing worth worrying about. That Paracetco shit was baby milk'" (pg. 193).
By comparing Paracetco - a dangerous drug that Lauren's mother took during her pregnancy, which left Lauren with her hyperempathetic abilities - to baby milk, Zahra makes it clear that what Lauren had thought a harmful secret is really entirely benign.
Sharks Around the Island (Simile)
Lauren is devastated when she learns that little Amy Dunn is dead. Someone shot her through the metal gate leading into the neighborhood; it's not clear if she was caught in crossfire that penetrated the heavy gate, or if someone outside lured her there and then killed her.
Lauren is devastated by her death, and uses a vivid simile to express her opinion of her neighborhood: "It's like an island surrounded by sharks - except the sharks don't bother you unless you go in the water. But our land sharks are on their way in. It's just a matter of how long it takes for them to get hungry enough" (pg. 50).
This simile conveys the isolation and danger that Lauren feels, as well as the menacing nature of the people who dwell outside the walls: they are not people; rather, they are dangerous predators.
Keith the Question Mark (Metaphor)
Lauren's oldest brother Keith is devious, sly, and often unkind. She says that, "Keith at 13 is a question mark. He wouldn't steal from Dad. He wouldn't dare. But he has stolen from me - only little things so far" (pg. 81).
Keith has a number of bad traits, but Lauren is quick to point out that he hasn't done anything really awful so far. His future is yet unclear: he might absorb some of the integrity and goodness of his other family members, or he might fall prey to his worst impulses. This is why Lauren likens him to a question mark, a symbol of uncertainty.
Two-Legged Coyotes (Metaphor)
On the road, there are a number of people who scavenge and prey on others more vulnerable than themselves. Lauren notes, "They prey on old people, lone women, or women with young kids, handicapped people...They don't want to get hurt. My father used to call them coyotes. When he was being polite, he called them coyotes" (pg. 202).
Lauren's father likened these sorts of people to coyotes, predators often considered pests. They are not as intimidating or frightening as a bear or lion, but they will still prey on the weak. Lauren quickly learns how to handle such two-legged coyotes: generally, a show of force such as pulling out a gun will scare them off.
Rabbit-like Thieves (Simile)
When thieves come to steal the rabbits owned by the Moss family, they are surprised by two members of the community who are on watch: “The two thieves ran like rabbits” (pg. 74).
The thieves, who originally came to the neighborhood to steal the rabbits and likely eat them, found themselves turned into prey when the neighborhood watch comes upon them. The fear and speed with which they flee makes them similar to the rabbits they tried to steal.
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.