When Lauren is out with her father and some other members of the community practicing firearms, they are stalked by dogs and one member of the party shoots one of them. The large, beautiful gray dog is clearly suffering and dying; Lauren ends its misery by shooting it in the head.
Given her hyperempathy, Lauren is terrified that killing the animal may actually kill her. She feels the killing impact as a blow, but after a moment, she is able to walk along as though nothing happened. This does not decrease her empathy toward other living things, but the killing of the dog marks the moment when Lauren realizes that her hyperempathy is not just an uncontrollable weakness. She realizes that she can control it, and eventually, that she and others can use it as a benefit. Thus the killing of the dog allegorizes Lauren's broader transition into acceptance of her hyperempathetic abilities.
A common object in the world of The Parable of the Sower, guns are also an important motif in the book. Guns mean protection, opportunity, and safety. Lauren's father teaches her to use a gun from a very young age, which allows her to survive when the walled neighborhood falls.
In Lauren's little community, allowing someone to wield a gun or trusting them to use one while on watch signifies their full acceptance into the group. When Lauren offers to buy Harry a gun, this marks a major moment of trust in their relationship.
At one point in the journey north, Natividad and Travis have recently joined Lauren's little group, and Lauren is talking to all of them about Earthseed. Travis is particularly interested but also very skeptical, so Lauren uses his own background to explain the religion to him. The Earthseed belief that it is one's duty to shape God informs Lauren's determination to eke out a way of survival for herself and her friends. Unlike the people of her now-destroyed community, Lauren understands that the nature of the world is change and she prepares herself for it accordingly. But unlike the gangs and violent criminals, she does not do this by harming others. However, neither does Earthseed mean passively rolling over and just accepting whatever comes. Instead, Earthseed advocates an engaged, empowered way of being. This relation between Earthseed doctrine and Lauren's own life demonstrates the extent to which Earthseed pervades the narrative as a motif.
The Neighborhood Wall (symbol)
Around the neighborhood that Lauren grew up in, there is a great wall. This keeps out the drug addicts, criminals, and gang members who haunt the streets of most cities, and make life so difficult for so many.
Like many other symbols and motifs in The Parable of the Sower, the neighborhood wall is both an actual object in the books and an important symbol. The wall distinguishes Lauren's neighborhood from the rest of the city, and it also protects them. However, ironically, this wall also makes them a target: to the many impoverished people outside, only rich and incredibly privileged people could ever have the opportunity to live behind a wall. Eventually, gang members who target the rich decide to burn down the neighborhood and kill everyone they can find.
The Moss Rabbits (symbol)
The Moss family owns a number of rabbits, and they run a lucrative business selling furs and meat. The rabbits might represent the Moss family itself: Richard Moss has three wives and many children, implying that he breeds like a rabbit. One of the daughters of the family, Aura, joins Lauren and her father during a shooting lesson, and Lauren finds her petulant and whiny, as unable to defend herself as a rabbit. This impression of the Mosses persists in the novel until Lauren gets to know Zahra during their trip north.
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.