Parable of the Sower

“Earthseed”: Reinscribing the Body in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower College

In an interview conducted by Marilyn Mehaffy and AnaLouise Keating, Octavia Butler was prompted to discuss the importance of bodily inscription in writing, to which she replies that the body is “all we really know that we have…all we really know that we have is the flesh.”(Mehaffy and Keating, 59) Butler’s concern in salvaging the “flesh” through writing is a persistent theme in her novel, Parable of the Sower. It chronicles protagonist Lauren Olamina, as she leads a community of individuals up the Pacific Coast while writing and teaching a religion based on the acceptance of change and difference as God. Lauren authors Earthseed: The Books of the Living, through short, philosophical passages that are dispersed throughout the novel; “I wrote, fleshing out my journal notes,”(Butler, 216) narrates Laura, as her writing encompasses both the female mind and body. Earthseed, the fictitious religion introduced by Butler, encapsulates a discourse that is innately female; this concept of “fleshing” and the epistolary style that Butler utilizes are simultaneously compatible with Helene Cixous’ manifesto for ecriture feminine, “The Laugh of the Medusa", an exhortation to a “feminine mode” of writing. The narrative embodiments of...

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