The Handmaid's Tale

The Representation of Religion in Dystopian Fiction: 'Parable of the Sower' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' 11th Grade

Dystopian novels often focus on expanding certain fears of society to the extreme. Many times, at the top of these fears, is religion and the exploitation of it. It is often the case that dystopian writers will represent religion as a being that controls everyone and used as a tool to justify cruel punishments, but this is not always the case. Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower utilized religion to become a hopeful tool in a time of distress, while the dystopian classic, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood uses religion in the more traditional sense.

The Parable of the Sower changed many parts of the dystopian fiction world. It was the first dystopian novel to be written by an African American woman and featured a young, African American female protagonist. The novel is set in 2024, post-apocalyptic America making it unique in that it is set in the recent future. All of these characteristics make the novel unique in the dystopian fiction world, but one characteristic that is especially unique is the fact that religion in the novel is not seen with a controlling or dividing nature, but instead religion gives hope and represents equality. The protagonist, Lauren Olamina, lives in a Baptist community, that her father...

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